A FORMER Wales international is urging rugby clubs across Newport to get involved with their community as part of a new joint initiative between the Welsh Rugby Union and the Big Lunch.

Morgan Stoddart, who is now a backs coach at Cross Keys RFC, is fronting the partnership which is encouraging neighbourhoods in Gwent to come together for one day to enjoy, among other things, food in their local communities.

The Big Lunch is a UK-wide initiative funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The sixth annual Big Lunch takes place on Sunday, June 1, in community centres and sports clubs across the UK.

Former Scarlets back Stoddart, who retired last year at 28 after failing to recover from a broken leg, said: “Rugby is the national sport of Wales and our clubs in Newport are at the heart of many communities.

“Rugby is a sport which brings communities, families and friends together as well as helping to break down inter-generational and social barriers. It therefore has a great deal of synergy with the concepts behind The Big Lunch.”

Julie Paterson, head of group compliance at the WRU, said: “By supporting The Big Lunch we are encouraging our clubs across Newport to open their doors to the local community and welcome new people of all ages into the rugby clubs. It is a great opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and most importantly have a good time.

“A rugby club Big Lunch will also be a great way to celebrate the end of a fantastic rugby season and thank existing members, coaches, volunteers and supporters for all their hard work.

“All our clubs rely on a strong team of community volunteers, players and coaches in order to run on a day-to-day basis so The Big Lunch is a great way of inviting everyone across from Newport young to old, to have a natter and get involved in our national sport.”

Gwion Thorpe, coordinator of The Big Lunch in Wales, said: “We are delighted that the WRU is supporting The Big Lunch this year.”

For anyone interested in getting involved in The Big Lunch this June, Free starter packs are now available from thebiglunch.com