Scrum-half Andy Uren and fly-half Tiff Eden from current Gallagher Premiership leaders Bristol Bears hosted the latest ‘Project Rugby at Home’ session – an ongoing community initiative, featuring each of the 12 Gallagher Premiership clubs, which aims to help young rugby enthusiasts keep in touch with their local rugby clubs, as well as providing them with the opportunity to interact with local Gallagher Premiership stars.
During the session, youth players from Bristol and Somerset grassroots rugby clubs, including North Bristol RFC, Broad Plain RFC, Gordano RFC, St Mary’s Old Boys RFC, Dings Crusaders, Bristol Harlequins, Hornets RFC and Weston-Super-Mare RFC, were given the opportunity to ask Andy and Tiff questions – covering topics including advice the players would give their younger selves, their career highlights, and tips for young players to improve their own game.
The initiative forms part of Project Rugby, Premiership Rugby’s flagship community programme, run in partnership with England Rugby and Gallagher, which is designed to increase participation in the game and champion rugby at the grassroots level as a truly inclusive sport. The programme engages thousands of participants per year, and since launching in 2017, more than 50,000 young people have been introduced to rugby, through initiatives delivered in over 200 locations across the country.
Bristol Bears’ involvement in Project Rugby forms part of the programme of initiatives delivered across the South West by the Bristol Bears Community Foundation, the charitable arm of the club, using sport as a vehicle to engage, educate, and support over 8000 community participants from a range of backgrounds. Initiatives include player development camps for young people, run for boys and girls of all abilities; rugby competitions involving youth rugby teams across the local area; and special school programmes targeting a variety of groups, including pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, and young people who are at risk from persistent non-attendance at school, or permanent exclusion.
The latest event in the Project Rugby at Home series follows sessions hosted by Wasps, Northampton Saints, Harlequins, Sale Sharks and Bath Rugby, involving players from each of the Gallagher Premiership sides.
Scott Brown, Development Executive at Gallagher and club liaison for Bristol Bears, said: “The Project Rugby at Home series is a brilliant initiative that we’re very proud to support at a local level, as part of our wider programme of community engagement with grassroots rugby – enabling young rugby fans to stay engaged with sport during these challenging times, so that they look forward to a return to the pitch once restrictions are eased.
“Bristol Bears have a strong presence across Bristol and the South West, and it was encouraging to see so much enthusiasm from participants in the session, reinforcing just how popular the game is among younger members of the community.
“As the title partner of Premiership Rugby, we are passionate about giving something back to the grassroots game, and encouraging more young people to get involved in rugby is a key part of that. We know first-hand how powerful rugby can be in terms of motivating young people to realise their true potential, and the latest Project Rugby at Home session has enabled these two star players to deliver just that.”
Wayne Morris, Community & Corporate Social Responsibility Director at Premiership Rugby, said: "The last 12 months has been an incredibly difficult time for many but Gallagher's support during this time has been unwavering. They have been incredibly supportive and flexible, allowing us to utilise our partnership in different ways to adapt our Project Rugby programme content and delivery models so that we can continue to support and engage participants during lockdown. There is a shared commitment between our two organisations to help change people’s lives, this means that together we are making a real positive impact in the wider community.
“Working together on Project Rugby at Home has only deepened our relationship, creating a great bedrock for the future of Project Rugby as the programme returns to the pitch late this year."
Andy Uren said: “Having been born and raised in Bristol, it was great to be able to answer questions from so many local young players, as well as speaking about how my own involvement in rugby while growing up has helped me get to where I am today. I know first-hand the positive influence the game can have on young people’s health and wellbeing, as well as helping them to develop important life skills such as teamwork and decision-making. That’s why I was so keen to share my own story, and hopefully help to inspire the next generation of rugby talent.”
Tiff Eden said: “I thoroughly enjoyed co-hosting the latest Project Rugby at Home session, and saw for myself the valuable role the initiative is playing in helping to boost the morale of young rugby fans in the local community while grassroots rugby is on hold. Having played rugby myself from an early age, I know how important it is that the opportunity to be involved in the game is opened up to as many young people as possible. It’s brilliant to see the impact Project Rugby is having in engaging so many youth players and encouraging future stars of the game.”