Former Leicester Tigers and Wasps winger Tom Varndell helps spearhead Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club's virtual pass in honour of NHS heroes during coronavirus lockdown
Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club has sent a virtual pass out in honour of the NHS staff fighting the effects of the coronavirus – with a famous face from their sport now joining them.
What started off with just Minis (U6 to U12s) chairman Craig Germeney and his two children Monty, 10, and Delilah, 7, playing in the garden has rapidly ‘passed’ through other members of the club.
A week later it had more than 70 children demonstrating their passing skills on a YouTube video (see below).
It has also seen other age groups at the club, such as the under-14s and even members of the first team, get involved.
But now things have taken a surreal new twist with the Premiership's leading try-scorer, former Leicester Tigers and Wasps wing Tom Vardnell, joining in.
“When rugby training was cancelled I thought this could be a good way to keep the kids engaged,” said Germeney.
“Footballers were doing something similar with toilet rolls and I thought it was a great idea. But toilet rolls was not really appropriate for us, so we’ve used rugby balls.
“In the first video we had nine participants and now we are up to 76 participants.
“The parents have been great at sending their videos in and the kids look like they have been enjoying it.”
Through the club's contacts with sports clothing brand and renowned international 7s team Samurai, with their base at Bury's Haberden ground, they were able to get Varndell to record his own video to stitch in.
"We got to speak to him through Terry Sands (Bury's performance director) through one of his contacts," said Germeney, who is hoping to involve some more famous faces as well as some local NHS nurses.
He said technology was not one of his strong points but he had been learning quickly and was still adding more videos in as they arrived.
He said: “A bit of humour is being added in as we get to the older age groups.
“Over all the videos we have now had more than 1,000 views,” he said.
The Minis section at Bury itself comprises of 281 children and he said it is just one of the activities he was sending out during the pandemic lockdown.
The others include videos to parents for isolation training sessions, a colouring competition of a club poster and a design your own kit challenge. The latter two will see winners from each age group claim a club branded rugby ball.
Germeney has been sending out regular updates to club members on the virtual pass videos and is hoping it can help more widely with encouraging people to donate to the £50,000 appeal to cover the club’s income deficit mentioned in last week’s Free Press. As of Wednesday 4pm it stood at £7,877 (15 per cent).
You can donate to the appeal by clicking here.
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More by this authorRussell Claydon