West London Warriors celebrate one year anniversary

Image above: West London Warriors; photograph Aubrey Crawley

LGBT+ touch-rugby team in Chiswick

The West London Warriors, an LGBT+ touch rugby club, are celebrating their one year anniversary on Saturday 10 June with a BBQ, DJ, taster sessions and matches.

The event will take place from 2pm at Grasshoppers RFC in Isleworth and the team is encouraging anyone who would like to try (or watch) the game to register and attend for free. Touch rugby is a version of the game in which players do not tackle each other but instead touch their opponents using their hands on any part of the body, clothing, or the ball.

The West London Warriors is a mixed gender team. Co-captain, Julia Dahlgren, told The Chiswick Calendar the main thing she took away from her first session was “how good the vibes were” and that “the main reason I’d encourage other people to join is the community aspect.”

The club was formed in partnership with Pride in Touch and the West London Queer Project and Julia says coaches Tom Hall and Nick Heath do a “phenomenal job of setting the tone during the sessions: the focus is on inclusion, acceptance and celebration”.

Image above: Julia Dahlgren; photograph Ben Watts

“It’s not just ‘rugby light’, it’s got completely different rules”

Jake Norgrove,  told us before finding out about the West London Queer Project, he found opportunities to meet other LGBT+ people outside of going to clubs and bars were limited.

“There was basically nothing around and then I started seeing posts about the West London Queer Project but I never really plucked up the courage to go to an event… particularly the touch rugby stuff.

“I almost went six or seven times, and when I finally went it was exactly what I wanted to do. It just helps that everyone here is so open and welcoming and there’s no judgement, there’s just this cameraderie that I’ve never had with a group of guys.”

Jake, now 31, said he tried out for rugby at school:

“I played about three of four games, got pummelled to bits, and that was like, the end of me. And then, once I’d come out to myself, I decided it just wasn’t something I could do… that wasn’t an avenue I’d ever be able to go down”.

“I didn’t really want to go and end up getting knocked about, get concussion, cauliflower ears, and all that sort of stuff. So touch just felt more approachable, and actually once I started playing, it’s a completely different game, it’s not just ‘rugby light’, it’s got completely different rules, it’s exhausting, and a joy to play.”

Image above: West London Warriors; photograph Tom Hall

“A real community feel”

Des Fleming, who had never played any type of rugby before attending the first taster session told us:

“I thought there was a real community feel to the group, it was very welcoming. There was a great diversity in terms of gender and age and it was fun, very enjoyable”. 

Des says the team: “continues to grow and we continue to welcome new people into the group. And for me personally I find it very important to have an outlet where I can connect with people socially, but there’s an activity involved”.

If you would like to come and watch or try it out, register at the West London Queer Project website.


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