Premiership Rugby's Project Rugby programme, backed by partner Gallagher, has been one of the game’s great success stories in recent years – introducing thousands of young people every year to rugby as a game for everyone regardless of background or ability.
Delivered by Gallagher Premiership clubs at more than 200 locations across the country, Project Rugby has already changed many young lives for the better with a number of stars emerging – including Jamie*, and this is his story:
When Jamie (*not his real name) first turned up to a Project Rugby Festival in Manchester run by Sharks Community Trust, staff spoke to his Dad who informed us that Jamie had been having a tough time at home and that “he was the glue holding the family together”.
Jamie’s Dad suffered badly from PTSD and depression after an event in the emergency services and Jamie’s sister had recently been diagnosed with depression and was finding life hard.
When Jamie started working with Sale Sharks as part of Project Rugby – while a pupil at a school in Manchester - he had never previously played the game and didn’t take part in any out-of-school activities.
Jack Leech, Rugby Development Officer at the Sharks Community Trust explains: “From the first moment Jamie took part in Project Rugby engagement sessions in school he became a driver of these sessions, always first out and last in after collecting kit.
“He has taken part in every available festival, began training outside of school and continues to look after his family and also himself. He has now started training at his local team and will hopefully start playing regularly for the local rugby club.
“We’re all really proud of him.”
Project Rugby is a joint initiative launched in 2017 by Premiership Rugby in collaboration with England Rugby, and Gallagher adding its backing in March 2019 as part of its commitment to support not only the professional game but also champion rugby at the grassroots level as a truly inclusive sport.
It is designed to increase participation in the game by people from traditionally underrepresented groups including Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic people, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and disabled people.
Since launch, more than 45,000 young people have been introduced to rugby through the initiative who wouldn’t otherwise have had access.
Project Rugby is also one of Premiership Rugby’s Community programmes that together form the Plan to Improve a Million Lives. This ambitious community strategy is Premiership Rugby’s commitment to make a positive impact, through rugby, on the lives of one million people by the end of the 2020/21 season.
Jamie has come such a long way since joining Project Rugby. His is one of those million lives being changed.
Project Rugby provides accessible opportunities for people to participate in the game at a time and place that can be easily accessed by target audiences.
To find out more about Project Rugby and to find a session near you, visit www.projectrugby.co.uk.
For more information on the Plan to Improve a Million Lives, follow #improveamillionlives and visit www.premiershiprugby.com/community