“It’s harder than it looks!” – Edinburgh legends lace up for Walking Touch pilot

“It’s harder than it looks!” – Edinburgh legends lace up for Walking Touch pilot

A team of Edinburgh Rugby Legends laced up their boots for the inaugural Scottish Building Society Walking Touch Festival, held on the back pitches next to Hive Stadium ahead of the capital side’s recent match with Zebre Parma.

Piloted in partnership with Main Club Partner, Scottish Building Society, the event featured seven teams from across Scotland who answered the invite and opportunity to take on some weel-kent faces from the capital club’s yesteryear.

An all-star team featuring Tim Visser, Jim Hamilton, Dave Denton, Hugo Southwell, James King, Andrew Easson, Lewis Niven, Steven Turnbull and Conan Sharman were among those to answer the call for the all-star select – many picking up a ball for the first time in years.

“I loved that. It was great fun,” said Jim Hamilton, the former second-row turned podcaster and broadcaster.

“I was just chatting to Phil Godman, my old fly-half from back in the glory days, and it’s been quite nice to get back together. We don’t do it enough and everyone says the same thing.

“I joked with Hugo Southwell that we’ll do it again in ten years’ time and it’s one of those that you want to be out with your mates catching up and enjoying a laugh together.

“My wife said to me if there’s any running – and my lad’s here, he’s watching – then I won’t be allowed to do it again – so it was definitely walking touch!”

“It’s harder than it looks,” chipped in former Edinburgh Rugby wing Tim Visser. “I was definitely out of breath a couple of times.”

“It was good seeing all the guys again and get a bit of movement. Some of us have tried rugby after rugby and it hasn’t worked out that well. I dislocated my shoulder in a Vets tournament – and I wasn’t even a Vet! – so this was much better and really good fun.”

As the name suggests, Walking Touch is a much gentler form of the combative sport and is an increasingly popular way for people who want to stay active, stay connected with the sport, and stay connected with old teammates, as well as maybe meet some new ones.

Edinburgh Rugby Community Manager, Ruaridh Pye, added: “Walking Touch is a fantastic opportunity first and foremost for socialising and enjoying rugby. It’s an opportunity for people who still want to be involved but maybe but can’t play competitively anymore.”

Reflecting on the inaugural festival, he added: “The event was brilliant. We had over 100 folk playing in the blazing sunshine, in the shadow of Hive Stadium, before a crucial match for the club.

“Don’t get me wrong it was pretty competitive, but rugby was one element, the social element – being able to interact and catch up with people, have conversations, enjoy a day out – was a huge feature too.”

After the dust settled on the pitch, the event carried on in the Up & Under Bar where teams shared a drink, and a bit more chat with the opposition teams, before heading out to watch Edinburgh take on Zebre at Hive Stadium in the BKT URC.

“We’re in clubs and schools all the time engaging with young people but this is an age-group we don’t often get an opportunity to work with,” added Pye.

“Plenty of them watch our games and plenty of them take part in Walking Touch across the country, so it was nice to put the invite out there, pilot this event and see how it would run.

“It’s fair to say it was a success and a template we can hopefully replicate.”

Scottish Building Society Chief Executive Officer, Paul Denton, added: “Our sponsorship with Edinburgh Rugby is far more than the professional players on the pitch. It’s a great platform to work together on amazing community programs, like this Walking Touch tournament.

“A few weeks ago we held the final round of our inclusive festival, helping to show that rugby is a sport for all abilities. Then earlier this month, our training session with Pierre Schoeman took place for youth teams across Scotland.

“Now we’ve held a tournament to celebrate walking rugby teams. This version of the sport is so important for keeping active and getting people out the house, whilst making a few friends along the way. It was great to meet the teams, there was a real spirit of rugby, teamwork and friendship here which was brilliant to see.

“Walking touch isn’t just about the actual game, it’s about embracing inclusivity, being sociable and building connections through a shared love of the sport.”

Participating teams

Ayr RFC BATs, Edinburgh Legends, Kelso, Midlothian Uncoachables, Midlothian Unpickables and Murrayfield Wanderers.

Edinburgh Rugby Legends team

Dave Denton, Andrew Easson, James King, Jim Hamilton, Lewis Niven, Conan Sharman, Hugo Southwell, Steven Turnbull, Tim Visser.

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