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Rugby League • 2 min read • Jul 6, 2024 11:00:09 PM • Written by: Peter Astley MBE



I have always loved the quote about our great game by the late great playwright Colin Weiland:

“In south west Lancashire, babies don't toddle, they side-step. Queuing women talk of 'nipping round the blindside'. Rugby league provides our cultural adrenalin. It's a physical manifestation of our rules of life, comradeship, honest endeavour, and a staunch, often ponderous allegiance to fair play.”

Whilst clearly written in a different pre-smart phone and reality TV age, the sentiment of this great quote still rings true and often gets me thinking about why Rugby League is such a great game, both on and off the field.

Rugby League is clearly a tough game, where players have to be fit, strong and skilful to excel, but also like boxing for instance, teaches discipline, and control, in a way that other sports don’t. But unlike boxing, Rugby League introduces all the social benefits of team play and the comradeship that goes with playing and being involved in the game.

So why is this so important, surely a game is just a game? In the Warrington Wolves we have a philosophy that we ‘develop the person’ rather than just the player, which in essence means that we try to use the opportunities that the game gives us to help develop the player into a good person, or model citizen, with great values, and who will go on to make a positive difference in society.

Using the game to develop ‘model citizens’ and not just great players is a key objective of my Community Rugby League Club Development role, and something that I’m keen to fully embed in our Community Clubs. Whilst we are still in essence just starting on the journey of development and improvement in our Community Clubs, we have already made great progress. The excellent volunteers within the Clubs understand why this is so important and have been very receptive at linking in to some of the initiatives, such as the RESPECT agenda (I’ll talk about why this is so important in a later blog); we have examples of young people working hard to raise money for good causes, and one young hero goes out every weekend into his local area picking up litter.

The Wire under the exemplary forward-thinking leadership of Gary Chambers is working to support young people who are potentially on the cusp of criminality, by exposing them to the demanding world of being a full-time pro player, something which has such a moderating impact on them. Cheshire Police have been fantastic in providing support for our clubs in many ways, helping to educate our young players on the dangers of knife crime and bullying etc as well as providing PCSO Liaison Officers, and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service also recognise the importance of the game, supporting initiatives such as the Fire 7’s, which provides many young people with their first opportunity at playing in our Stadium and whom as a result of this introduction into the game, may one day go on to play there as professional players.

Colin Welland was right, Rugby League is a ‘physical manifestation of the rules of life’, and if we continue to work together to capitalise on the opportunities to develop the person, not just the player, we will produce young people who are the physical manifestation of all that’s good in society.

Reach the World. Giving Made Easy with Impact.

Peter Astley MBE