We’re no strangers to muddy boots at Westcountry Weekender, but it’s been a little while since we ran around a rugby pitch. Thankfully we’re in safe hands with Ryan and Andy, founding members of Westcountry Wasps; a new inclusive rugby team for Devon and Cornwall. They talk to us about what it’s like to play for an inclusive team and what people can expect from the club’s upcoming taster sessions.
Meet Ryan & Andy
I’m Ryan, a gay man, working for Devon and Cornwall Police. I started playing rugby at the age of 11 and went on to referee for RFU Cornwall at County and Federation level. Bringing a gay and inclusive rugby team to Devon and Cornwall has been a long-held ambition of mine.
And i’m Andy, a straight man, and I’ve only recently moved to Exeter. Originally from Sale, I played for 10 years with Manchester Village Spartans and when I moved to Devon I wanted to continue playing for a team where everyone is treated equally.
WW: So, tell us a little more about Westcountry Wasps…
Ryan: We’re a new inclusive rugby team that welcomes players of any experience. Based in Exeter, the team hopes to attract players from all over Devon and Cornwall.
WW: And what’s different about an inclusive rugby team, can anyone join?
Andy: Having played for an inclusive team before, it really means that everyone is welcome regardless of their sexuality. Inclusive rugby is supported by IGR (International Gay Rugby), but this doesn’t mean that only gay men can join our team. We’ll welcome anyone to WWRFC as long as they’re willing to work as a team, work hard and have some fun.
Ryan: The Rugby Football Union has five core values of teamwork, respect, discipline, sportsmanship, and enjoyment. But being part of an inclusive team is about more than that, so we’ve added three more of our own; community, strength, and pride. Community to represent the team, Strength to represent how we want our players to feel, and Pride to show everyone we’re open and welcoming to all.
WW: And who’s idea was it to start a new team locally?
Ryan: We were put in touch with each other by IGR after Andy moved to the area and we’ve been working on launching the team ever since.
WW: It sounds like you’ve been really busy starting up Westcountry Wasps. Why was it so important to you to start an inclusive team?
Ryan: I’ve played with and for standard teams before, but not everyone feels they can or want to be in that environment.
Andy: I’m always amazed at how many guys have never played rugby before. So many of them want to find a route into playing sport, but they don’t have the confidence to join other teams. Inclusive teams help with that. There are now about 18 inclusive teams in the UK, and there are some clubs that now play at a higher level than other local teams. It’s brilliant!
WW: That sounds fantastic, have those other clubs been supportive of you, or has the on-pitch rivalry started already?
Ryan: When we first announced that we were forming a team, we never imagined that there’d be as much support as there has been. The inclusive rugby community immediately reached out and have been very supportive. Our closest teams are Bristol Bisons and Wessex Wyverns (Southampton) who have both been extremely supportive.
WW: So have either of you played for an inclusive team before?
Andy: I played for 10 years with Manchester Village Spartans. I watched the team grow from just a few people to now over 100 members and players. It’s been some of the best times of my life, playing with passionate players and seeing a community support each other.
WW: And what about the people you’re hoping will come and join the team…what will Westcountry Wasps offer locally?
Ryan: With so many people living rurally in Devon and Cornwall, it can be really tough for people to feel like they’re part of a community. We hope that by joining a new inclusive team, people will want to not only come and play sports but also get some exercise. And it’s a great way to meet new people that isn’t through an app or a nightclub.
WW: That sounds great, so for anyone reading the blog how can they find out more about the team?
Andy: The best way to find out more is to take a look at our social media channels (like and share!). We’re on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as @westwaspsrfc.
Ryan: We also have two taster sessions coming up in October where an RFU Community Coach will be leading a basic skills session.
WW: And what can people expect from those taster sessions?
Ryan: Well we’re definitely going to get you some exercise, but don’t worry if you’ve never played before, we’ll go through everything. If you have played before, then please come along and enjoy meeting some new people! I’m sure there will be a pint afterwards!
WW: You sound like men after our own hearts – we’re a great believer that exercise is always best followed by a pint afterwards! But for those of us a little rusty on the rugby pitch will we still be able to join in?
Ryan: The team is going to be made up of people that want to get involved. This means that we might have people join that have played for a long time or we might have people who join who’ve had no experience whatsoever and just want to try something new. We welcome all people regardless of experience, sexuality, or anything else, to join us.
WW: Great, and finally, when you’re not playing rugby where are your favourite spots in the Westcountry?
Andy: Being new to the Westcountry, I’m still discovering things to do down here, but loving every minute. Suggestions on a postcard!
Ryan: Being Cornish, there’s nothing better than going to the beach. Perranporth beach, pint in hand at The Watering Hole, the only pub on a beach! I also love the nightlife in the summer in Newquay.
WW: We love The Watering Hole! Well, there’s the first suggestion for you Andy! Thanks for talking us through the new club and best of luck with the taster sessions! We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for sunny weather for you!
Westcountry Wasps taster sessions
The first two taster sessions are:
Saturday 13 October: Exeter
Topsham Rugby Club 12:30PM
Saturday 20 October: Plymouth