Project Rugby is the flagship participation initiative run by Premiership Rugby in collaboration with England Rugby and supported by Gallagher as a partner. It aims to engage new, non-traditional rugby audiences with the sport, specifically targeting people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities; disabled people; and those from Lower Socio-Economic groups (LSEGs). Since its inception, rugby has reached over 45,000 people aged 14-24 and resulted in increased participation levels.
Tigers stars Joe Heyes, Sam Lewis and Telusa Veainu were with Gallagher and Premiership Rugby at Nottingham Moderns RFC to pass on rugby tips and skills to the local youngsters introduced to the sport through the Project Rugby programme. It was a particularly memorable evening for Joe, who played at Nottingham Moderns as a youngster before progressing into the Tigers Academy.
Charlie Scott, Chief Financial Officer for Gallagher in the UK and a ‘Rugby Ready’ coaching course graduate and Project Rugby volunteer, said: “Project Rugby is an absolutely fantastic and inclusive initiative that we’re very proud to partner with as part of our wider programme of community engagement with grassroots rugby.
“By supporting and volunteering at Project Rugby events up and down the country — like this one led by Leicester Tigers — our Gallagher colleagues get to see first-hand the power of rugby in helping build confidence, resilience and other key life skills among young people who might not otherwise have had access to playing the game.”
As well as training alongside Leicester Tigers first team players and community coaches, the lucky youngsters also had the opportunity to have their picture taken with the Gallagher Premiership Rugby trophy, which has been lifted by the Tigers on 10 occasions as champions of the competition.
Joe Heyes, Leicester Tigers player: “Coming back to my old grassroots rugby club was an amazing feeling. Remembering how I felt at that age, running around the pitch with a rugby ball in my hand, and seeing these children with big smiles on their faces really brought things back for me. It’s great that Project Rugby is making the sport more accessible for people who might not have thought rugby was a sport for them and the fact over 45,000 new players have already engaged with rugby through the initiative speaks for itself.”
Telusa Veainu, Leicester Tigers player, added: “It was a great experience to be able to meet so many young people that have recently been introduced to rugby. The sport has done so much for me as a person and Project Rugby is helping to break down participation barriers for people who might otherwise think rugby isn’t for them.”
Wayne Morris, Community and CSR Director at Premiership Rugby: “A big thank you to Leicester Tigers for hosting this Project Rugby event with Gallagher. It’s only right we celebrate the work of our clubs in delivering Project Rugby across the country and their contribution to its overwhelming success.
“It’s important that we open up rugby union to as many people as possible and working closely with both our clubs and Gallagher, we’re seeing so many new players take up rugby and transition into local grassroots rugby clubs. This is what it’s all about for us and we’re pleased to see the huge strides we’re taking with making the game more accessible, and engaging communities with no background or history within rugby.”
Joe Reynolds, Rugby Development Officer and Project Rugby lead at Leicester Tigers, explained how the club carries out a lot of community work in the region and is keen to build on this in areas away from Leicester. “From initially hosting programmes in the Nottingham area, we have seen a fantastic pick up from pupils and young players in the region to get involved with rugby and the Gallagher Project Rugby Takeover Day at Nottingham Moderns offers a great platform to celebrate rugby in Nottingham.
“Tigers has a strong presence across the Midlands and with the help of the Project Rugby programme, we have been able to help remove barriers and aim to increase participation for beginners.”
For more information on Project Rugby and to find a session near you, visit www.projectrugby.co.uk