A WRU rugby coordinator based in the Cardiff Blues region is putting lockdown to good use after volunteering to be mobilised by the British Army.
Owain Marchbank, who has been an Army reservist for three years, was only too pleased to answer the call from his regiment, the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Welsh, once all rugby activity in Wales was curtailed.
And he went straight to work in the decontamination of ambulances at a centre in Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent.
“Being a reservist is a part-time commitment most of the time – most people think of being called up in times of war but at the moment we are helping the NHS and other key services in what is called MACA – Military Aid to Civilian Authority,” said Officer Cadet Marchbank.
“We have members of our battalion who have been mobilised all over Wales – some helped to deliver the PPE equipment that arrived at Cardiff Airport from China and Cambodia.
“Along with a group of around 20 of us, I’ve been trained to decontaminate ambulances for the Welsh Ambulance Service. I work three hour shifts most days which is the most you can be in the level of PPE required for the so-called ‘red zone’ as the ambulances have been in contact with Covid cases.
“My partner Ellie is a maternity healthcare worker so when the rugby season came to an end and many of us were furloughed, I wanted to do my bit too. I didn’t want to be just sitting at home. I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile and also supporting Ellie and her NHS colleagues.
Marchbank, 27, from Pontypridd, feels there is a great symmetry between his army and rugby roles.
“My Army background gave me a great start when it came to securing my rugby roles as you do a lot of army training in teamwork and problem solving. This role also feels similar to my rugby role in that we are coming together from various walks of life to help the whole community. It’s great to see that everyone is pulling together at this time and I’m really glad I can be of use and part of something bigger.”
Owain explained that being a reservist had helped him to develop both personally and in his career as many things that he’d learnt through the Army transitioned into his work as a rugby coordinator.
“As well as teamwork and problem solving, you learn how to get people onto the same page quickly so you can react quickly and deal with things together – there’s a thought process to follow.
“If you think you may be missing that little something in your life or career then becoming a reserve is definitely worth considering as you gain so much from it.”
There are over 2,200 reservists in Wales. They come from diverse backgrounds and give up their spare time to train and serve alongside regular personnel in the Armed Forces.