Vunipola helps youngsters in touch rugby session

Billy Vunipola in action for Saracens (pic: Mark Kerton/PA)

Billy Vunipola in action for Saracens (pic: Mark Kerton/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Saracens forward Billy Vunipola helped out at a training for youngsters with disabilities and gave out medals at the end of the session.

The England number eight handed out medals at Allianz Park in Hendon after putting the youngsters through their paces during a Sarries RFC training session.

England international Vunipola, 25, who took part in the Sarries touch rugby programme, said “It was fun.

“It’s always nice and enjoyable. I can tell the kids were loving it, really enjoying it and they are very fond of me even though I’ve only been here twice!”

The forward continued: “It’s nice to see them always cheering.

“We talk a lot about personal space here, but I guess we live in a world now where everything kind of runs through social media. So it’s nice they don’t care about those things, those barriers — it’s quite refreshing.”

“If rugby can be a tool for that then that’s probably more important than anything else.

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“It just puts a smile on your face, to see how happy and honest they are and upfront.

“They have no filter and it makes you…I don’t know, just happy!”

Saracens, who are sponsored by local car dealership Alan Day Volkswagen, are at the forefront of a pioneering scheme to help young people with high functioning disabilities such as autism, down’s syndrome and ADHD.

The popular programme, for up to 20 youngsters, is run by Benjamin Lawrence, the Sarries disability sports manager.

Each week, members of Alan Day VW give up their time for free to help coach the youngsters on the Saracens’ first-team pitch, while parents and friends are able to watch from the stands and offered hospitality at the club

The group, aged between 15- 21, are shown how to use the tackle bags and encouraged to have a go at the crossbar challenge.

Afterwards, delighted Paul Tanner, managing director of Alan Day said: “The boys were blown away that we got Billy Vunipola to join us.

“We had challenges involving the tackle bags, the crossbar challenge and we played tag rugby.”

“A huge thank you to Billy and the Sarries RFC staff and volunteers, we are extremely proud to be involved in this inspiring programme.”

*Billy Vunipola took part in the session prior to sustaining a broken arm at Glasgow Warriors in the Heineken Champions Cup.