Typhoons RUFC is Lancashire’s first inclusive rugby club and was formed in 2018 to give people of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities and some limited disabilities access to rugby union or touch rugby. The aim is to promote the health and wellbeing associated with team sports but without some of the barriers, or baggage that a ‘traditional’ rugby club comes with.
This accessibility has been critical to the club’s success, growing, in just two years, from inception to over 60 playing members across the men’s Rugby Union team and the mixed-gender touch rugby team. Some of these people had never picked up a rugby ball in their lives before attending, whilst others had been playing rugby all their lives and just like the atmosphere and ethos of the team. The mix of enthusiasm, energy and experience has led the Typhoons to success, finishing in the top-half of their league last year above teams such as Manchester Spartans, a team that has been going for over 20 years.
One of the Typhoons, a support worker, has recently introduced some of their clients who have been finding the coronavirus lockdown particularly, difficult the situation having been exacerbated by isolation, abandonment and anxiety issues. Typhoons welcomed the newbies with open arms, but there was a small issue in that the new people are autistic and/or have sight difficulties. It is also the first time that any of them has done regular exercise, let alone engaged in team sports.
There was a small issue however: Balls. The Typhoons train at Preston Grasshoppers under floodlights, with pristine white fences around the pitch. All the balls that Typhoons owned bar one was white. The exception, a high-visibility ball. Needless to say, the newbies (and to be honest many of the existing players) found that ball much easier to see and therefore catch and follow. It was not helping the new players’ morale when they kept missing the ball.
Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary Andrew Ridal is involved with the Typhoons and approached West Lancs Freemasons Charity to see if they could help the club buy some more high-visibility balls. WLFC kindly donated £480 allowing the club to buy 24 of the special balls, 12 for Rugby Union and 12 for Touch Rugby. Paul Renton, Deputy Grand Superintended, popped down to training and formally presented the new balls to the Typhoons on behalf of WLFC.
The story doesn’t end there. There has been a relatively close relationship between the Typhoons and the West Lancashire Freemasons Rugby Club, including a crossover of players. Interest in Freemasonry has developed and resulted in some serious enquiries and new prospective candidates. The WLFC contribution, whilst relatively small in the scheme of things, has helped solidify the benefit of Freemasonry in the minds of some young, enthusiastic, and decent young men and that can’t be a bad thing. Positives all round.