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Robyn Wilkins relishing new challenges in rugby and Para Sport

WITH the Commonwealth Games kicks in Birmingham in full swing, Wales Women international Robyn Wilkins is buzzing to launch a week-long Para Sport festival she’s been working on in a new role with Disability Sport Wales (Swansea, August 1-8).

The festival will include free, take-part opportunities and spectator events such as Deaf Rugby Sevens and wheelchair rugby.

Up until recently the Wales Women’s outside-half was a science teacher at Bassaleg School but has made the move to Disability Sport Wales where she now works as a part-time Senior Officer.

Robyn Wilkins is also confident she can take her rugby to a whole new level over the next few months after signing a part-time contract with Welsh Rugby Union.

Wilkins made her Wales Women’s debut as an 18-year-old against Italy in the 2014 Six Nations, and has been an integral member of the squad ever since. And the 59 times capped international is hopeful her new contract can help her make an even bigger impression on the international circuit especially with the Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand on the horizon.

“I’d like to think this is going to push me on as a player,” said Wilkins. “You are always striving to be the best you can be.

“There’ll be a lot more pressure, and there’s not any excuses you can use like being tired, or needing to juggle it around work. That’s something we have to grasp with two hands.

“The pressure will make it more enjoyable when we achieve success. Contracts have definitely made a difference.

“We had professional contracts during the Six Nations but those of us who weren’t on those contracts were coming in in the evening so we couldn’t take all the benefits whereas now we’ve got a full squad able to train altogether.

“You can go through a lot more drills, a lot more skills but also in the day you are a lot fresher, and more recovered to go again. It definitely makes a massive difference.”

So how will her new contract benefit her and change the way she prepares for games? “I work part time with the WRU training so I do that Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday,” said Wilkins.

“I also combine that with my new role at Disability Sport Wales. It makes a change to what I’d been doing previously.

“I’d be getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning trying to get a session in before school, and then getting a session in after school whereas now training in the day makes such a difference. You feel a lot fresher and ready to go. You’ve got the evening then to chill out and recover.

While Wilkins is hugely excited by her future in rugby she is also hugely passionate about making a positive difference to the lives of people with disabilities by using sport as a tool to unlocking their potential. She is currently working hard at organising the Disability Sport Wales Para Sport Festival which will take place across Swansea next week.

“In terms of my role with Disability Sport Wales I’ve always wanted to be involved in sport so this is the perfect combination,” she said.

“It’s a week-long event, there’ll be different events on each week. It starts on Monday and runs all the way through to the Sunday.

“The Monday will be a come and try event. We have 20 sporting activities on offer for disabled and non-disabled participants from wheelchair rugby to athletics and on Tuesday there will be target shooting along with running, cycling and swimming.

“We are really encouraging everyone to get down to Swansea and have a go.

“On the Friday evening we’ve got Wales Deaf playing a Sevens tournament against all the home nations, we also have a wheelchair rugby open on the Saturday

“We are really encouraging people to register online so we know roughly the numbers to expect. There’ll also be an opportunity to have a go with the swim, bike, and run on the Tuesday which is a mini triathlon.

“You can register for that and it’s free. Feel free to bring family and friends. It’s going to be a great week.”

Go to parasportfestival.co.uk to sign up for free Take Part or Spectate events