I want to use my blog to introduce people to the O2 Touch Tour, giving people the chance to get involved in rugby and support the game. I also wanted to share my views ahead of the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
The O2 Touch Rugby Tour is a great opportunity for all kinds of people to get together to experience rugby, be part of a team and take part in a fun competition. It's also an opportunity to support the England Rugby World Cup effort and support O2's Wear The Rose campaign. The tour is being run as part of an O2 Think Big initiative, to help unemployed young people gain work experience and employability skills through rugby. It's a great opportunity to learn a lot and come out of it with some really positive skills.
I believe touch rugby and rugby in general is an incredibly positive and exciting team sport and the values involved in rugby are crucial for achieving anything in life. The values learnt through team skills, playing a role in a group and learning how to win or lose cannot be underestimated in terms of their value going forward. Whether you are young, old, male or female, the skills and values you can learn through rugby and the O2 Touch Tour are hugely beneficial.
Jake and Wayne are two people who have benefited from the O2 Think Big initiative. Through them I wanted to give you a first hand account of how the tour can benefit you.
Jake told me: "Through O2 Think Big, I've picked up the importance of communication and working as part of a team. I plan to use the skills I've picked up by getting my level 3 higher in sports and then maybe go on to do some more coaching in primary and secondary school.
Jonny gave me great words of advice, to always follow my heart and follow my dreams and to grab all opportunities with both hands".
Wayne said: "It has been a phenomenal experience in which I've had the opportunity to meet many people, each with many different talents and goals. I have gained valuable life lessons from the school of hard knock and thank O2 for their scheme".
The O2 Touch Tours are all about introducing people to rugby in the run up to the World Cup, taking place this year in England and Wales. With the tournament fast approaching I believe England are in good shape. I think New Zealand will go in as favourites with South Africa as second, but it would be a poor decision to bet against England in this tournament, especially with the home support and everyone behind them driving them on. The way in which they deal with the home advantage and all the energy coming from the passionate support which will be very intense will be key. However, you couldn't ask for a team to go into this tournament in a more positive state. It's been an exciting year with lots of improvements and that's exactly what you need going into a tournament.
You have to look at New Zealand and South Africa coming in as strong favourites to win the tournament. Then of course there are the home nations, England, Ireland and Wales who are all reaching their peak at the right moment. Looking at teams further afield, teams like Argentina and Samoa are going to bring a real flavour to the tournament. I think there will be teams that will shock and teams that will put on some big performances, however there are only a few that can realistically win this tournament.
For me, winning the World Cup was an incredible experience, but the moment just before the final whistle was my favourite moment. That last moment when we knew we had essentially achieved what we wanted even though it wasn't yet over and we just had that final last step to go was an incredible feeling and hopefully one the England team will feel this year.
The O2 Touch Tour's are being run as part of an O2 Think Big initiative, to help unemployed young people gain work experience and employability skills through rugby. For information on how to sign-up to upcoming events go to O2Touch.co.uk.
I look forward to seeing you there!