North East Connected

International Rugby Stars Drop by to Inspire Students

International rugby stars were on Tyneside this week as part of a national drive to encourage more young people to take up O2 Touch.

Former England Sevens international Marcus Watson, England International Tamara Taylor and Former England International Ugo Monye dropped in to Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport as part of the O2 Touch Tour.

The trio and students from Gateshead College took part in a fun-packed day with live DJ, fitness and O2 Touch taster sessions –a non-contact form of rugby with no tackling, scrums or line-outs, making it an accessible sport for people of all ages and abilities, even those who have never picked up a rugby ball.

Ugo Monye says:” “It was great to be part of the O2 Touch tour in Gateshead College and see so many students come down and take part on the day. O2 Touch is a great way to stay fit and have fun with your mates, whether you play regularly or have never picked up a rugby ball before, everyone can get involved. The O2 Touch Tour this year is going to colleges and universities across England, it’s a brilliant way for students to give touch rugby a go.”

O2 Touch is one of England Rubgy’s key legacy participation programmes. A social format of rugby, O2 Touch aims to breakdown common barriers to participation, by creating an offering that is easily accessible, is played by men and women of all levels and gives participants a great playing experience.

The college is only one of three in the country to be welcoming the tour, which has been developed to inspire and encourage people of all ages and abilities to try touch rugby. O2 Touch has surpassed its participation target of introducing 15,000 registered players to the game by 2017, with Gateshead College now setting up as an O2Touch centre.

Liam Gumbrill, sports academy lead and head rugby union coach at Gateshead College, said: “Taking part in sport has huge health and social benefits for young people. As well as feeling fit from following a healthy lifestyle, it provides them with an opportunity to make new friends and enjoy taking part in team activities.

“Whether young people want a career in sport or just want to take part for fun, we make sure that there’s easy access to the support and facilities they need. It was great to host the O2 Touch Tour and have Ugo, Marcus and Tamara here to inspire our students to try something new.

“Each year we welcome talented students to our academies and it’s fantastic to see them develop their sporting skills with us. It’s even more rewarding to see that many go on to forge successful careers competing in national and international tournaments, representing their country.”

Gateshead College is dedicated to supporting and developing young people to achieve their potential as well as encouraging people of all ages to take part in sport. It has nine specialist sporting academies including: Athletics, Basketball, Boxing, Cricket, Golf, Men’s Football, Netball, Rugby and Women’s football.

From this September, anyone studying at the college, on any programme, can join a sport academy of their choice, where they’ll be placed on one of three sport pathways depending on their ability level.

Packages of support are available for each pathway: participation, development and performance, they include training, physical and wellbeing sessions, access to free physio treatment, sport nutrition seminars, discounted kit and the opportunity to take part in local and regional league games as well as cup fixtures.

Elite athletes on the ‘performance’ pathway can also apply for The Keith Cann Evans Award. The special award, named in memory of the former vice chair of the college’s board of governors, provides financial help as well as extra benefits such as sports massage, sport psychology and lifestyle management sessions.

To find out more about sport and other courses at Gateshead College visit or  call 0191 490 2246 or email

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