July 25, 2017

Meg Cliff

The words ‘work experience’ and ‘internship’ get thrown around a lot during your time at University. Everyone wants what is best for you when it’s time to graduate. and it can get a little daunting to put an official title on it. But what about volunteering? It can be a way more flexible way to gain experience in a variety of fields, and often offers all sorts of incentives and rewards! After all, being a ‘volunteer’ got me a place on the British and Irish Lions New Zealand Tour 2017.

When an injury put me on the sidelines for a few months, I wanted to stay involved in rugby either at Cardiff Met or at my club back home. After a few months of volunteering within the club, I gained a place onto the RFU National Youth Council, a board of 12 individuals developing youth rugby within England.

RYA Team
With the RYA team on Cyncoed Campus.

Back at Uni, I lead the Cardiff Met Rugby Young Ambassadors (we’re on Twitter as @CMET_RYA). We’re a small team working to create rugby events, including the Lions legacy event post-exams –  all while enjoying the sun on Costa Del Cyncoed of course! There’s lots more planned for next year, and we hope to continue doubling our event attendance.

I was planning on spending the start of my summer break sleeping, working a few hours in a café and enjoying the promised heatwave. Instead (and not that I’m complaining about it!), in late April I was selected to be a British and Irish Lions Ambassador.

On the 12th June, I made the mammoth journey to New Zealand. I’d be spending 2 weeks with 11 other ambassadors from the Lions home countries ready to tackle some of the issues that we face with youth participation in rugby. There isn’t really a better place to start looking at rugby success than in New Zealand, home to the number one team in the world –  the All Blacks.

Lions game
Taking in a Lions match!

The Lions tour itself was incredible – cold, but crazy! In between days filled with meetings we travelled up the North island from Wellington, through Rotorua, Hamilton and finally to Auckland. As fun and unique as the ‘adventure’ was, including hikes and racing down mountains like we were in Mario Kart, we had a lot of work to do.

Sunny(ish) Rotoroa!

We met with CEO’s, ex-players, Lions legends, All-Blacks supporters and club representatives to gather information relating to the 16-21 participation drop off in rugby union. With ideas and challenges in place, my role for the next year is to bring what we’ve learned to the National governing bodies, universities and clubs to help control the drop off and keep more people active in rugby union for longer!

If you’d like a taster of some of the amazing experiences that volunteering can lead to, here are a few ideas on how to get started:

  1. The WRU lists lots of opportunities for placements and volunteering opportunities.on the Cardiff Met CareerHub website, so check that regularly.
  2. Talk to a local sports club. It doesn’t have to be rugby – whether it’s hockey, football, tennis or athletics, clubs are always looking for a few extra pairs of hands.
  3. The RFU provides a programme called the Young Rugby Ambassadors scheme. By logging your time spent volunteering in rugby through the vInspired website you can earn all sorts of rewards.
  4. The Cardiff Met Rugby Young Ambassadors provide events and small organisation experiences within the university, and we’re always looking for more people to get involved – get in touch with me if you’d like to help!

Highlights from my Lions Tour Experience

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