Spreading the word for touch action

Norwich Rebels Touch Rugby has steadily grown and expanded since its inception back in March 2009 and, this summer, it became one of the RFU's most recently affiliated clubs.

Rebels were founded by former Tonbridge Royals touch rugby player/referee Anthony Stoppani who, having watched Tim Nunn and friends make a huge success of hosting tournaments at the Tonbridge Juddians RFC, kick-started the Rebels club when he relocated to Norfolk back in early 2009.

He gathered a small group of players from The Norfolk Constabulary, Wymondham College and the University of East Anglia to start playing at various parks around the area. And, with the help of the Active Norfolk website, Rebels were soon attracting up to 40 players to their sessions.

Now, on Tuesday evenings between March and October, they are primarily based at Eaton Park, on South Park Avenue in Norwich, while during the winter they move to indoor facilities such as those found at the University.

'We play social, mixed, touch rugby that everybody can enjoy,' said Stoppanie. 'Our oldest player is 62 and the youngest about 20 and we have plenty of people turning up who have never played the full 15 a-side rugby game and never want to, it's about 50/50.

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'It's huge fun and this is very much a 'sport for all' and we welcome adults of all standards and abilities. The only cost is a �1 a week during the Summer to mark the lines on the pitch or �2 a week for the hire of the astro pitches during the Winter.'

Since their affiliation to the RFU earlier this year Rebels good work has been recognised by the RFU's major sponsors O2 who support a country wide Touch Rugby initiative during the Summer and who have donated some much needed kit and equipment to the Rebels.

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'This meant that the club were able to host their first official Touch Rugby Tournament,' comments Stoppani. 'Eight teams from across Norfolk turned up with Holt RFC losing to Wymondham Touch in a closely fought final.'

Rebels have certainly come a long way in a very short time and their aim is to get a minimum of 20 teams at every session during the Summer months in the future

Stoppani says: 'We are looking for more individuals to join our teams which typically consist of between 10 to 12 players but only six of which are allowed on the pitch at any one time and two of whom must be women.'

While they are going from strength to strength on the pitch there is a now a pressing need for more referees to come forward and help out both on a club night and at future Touch Rugby tournaments.

Anybody willing to give up some of their time to referee or to actually take part in the sport should contact Anthony Stoppani on 01263 824684 or by e-mail at: Anthony.stoppani@btinternet.com

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