IF YOU’VE passed Dunfermline Public Park on recent Sunday evenings then you may have noticed scores of people and rugby balls aplenty.

It may be unusual for one of the town’s most recognisable green spaces to host organised sport but, thanks to the efforts of oval ball-loving couple Dern and Stuart Roy, it has become home to weekly touch rugby sessions.

Dern, Dunfermline Rugby Club’s team manager for Primary 1-P3s, and hubby Stuart, a first team player with the club, decided to offer the free sessions as a means for men, women and kids of all ages and abilities to try the sport while raising awareness of both that and the club itself.

Touch rugby is a minimal contact version of the game, emphasising running, agility, passing, catching and communication, with the aim of touching the ball down over the opposition’s line before being touched six times, at which point possession switches to the other team.

The Scottish Rugby Union initiative ‘Tartan Touch’, which invited clubs around the country to be a hub for touch rugby sessions throughout the summer, began in May and, after Dunfermline were too late to register their interest, Dern and Stuart stepped in.

After their first session on May 28 attracted 34 people to give it a go, numbers increased a week later to 46 and Dern, whose two boys both play in the rugby club’s minis Primary 1-3 age group, said: “We missed out on doing Tartan Touch with the SRU by a matter of days to register so Stuart and I decided to take it run it by ourselves. We wanted to run a free group for people to come along, get involved and try a new sport and raise more awareness of Dunfermline Rugby Club.

“We’ve had some really good feedback so far and I’m really chuffed with the comments. We had 34 people come along on the first week and we ended up running on for more than an hour! Everyone had a great time and the following week we had 46 players. We’ve had current players, old players, retired players, our under-18s team, women who have never played and men who have never played come along; there’s a real mix and people seem to be really enjoying it. It’s been a total success.

“We’re trying to encourage as many as we can back to rugby and I love seeing people of all abilities taking part. It’s a great way to meet new people, is something different and really easygoing.”

She continued: “We do use Dunfermline Rugby Club to help promote it and they have been great, kindly donating new balls, bibs and cones for us to use. We are trying to get more kids involved with the club but we’re promoting physical activity and encouraging people to try a new, non-contact sport and to have fun, most importantly.

“Rugby does take a back seat compared to football and people get a bit nervous about trying it. But anybody can do it; because it’s non-contact, it’s not as intense as rugby and the sessions are drop-in, drop-out. If it’s for you then great but if not, then that’s OK. It’s free as well which is really important, and how many things can you do for free?

“All you need is a pair of trainers and everyone’s welcome.”

All participants will receive a free bottle of water thanks to the owners of Rosyth’s Yellow Cafe, Ewen and Maighan Brand, and each session runs from 6pm at the north end (Halbeath Road) part of the public park every Sunday.

Dern hopes to run sessions through to September and for more information, search Rugby Touch Summer – Dunfermline Rugby Club on Facebook, or email droy09@outlook.com.