Sale Sharks full-back Simon Hammersley and former England Women’s captain and Sale Sharks Women’s outside-half Katy Daley-Mclean MBE 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 stay active during lockdown and keep in touch with their local rugby clubs, as well as providing them with a chance to interact with local Gallagher Premiership stars.
Simon and Katy took part in a question and answer session, led by Sale Sharks Trusts Community Development Manager Vicky Irwin and Rugby Development Manager Jack Leech. Topics covered included their own journeys into rugby, their career highlights – including Katy captaining the England Women’s team to victory against Canada in the 2014 France Rugby World Cup - along with offering advice to the young players on how improve their game.
The latest event in the Project Rugby at Home series follows sessions hosted by Wasps, Northampton Saints and Harlequins, with further instalments scheduled for the coming weeks while lockdown restrictions remain in place, involving players from each of the Gallagher Premiership sides.
The initiative forms part of Premiership Rugby’s flagship community programme, Project Rugby, 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 by Gallagher Premiership clubs in over 200 locations across the country.
As part of Sale Sharks’ commitment to championing inclusive communities, the club delivers a diverse and comprehensive range of programmes to remove barriers to participation in sport, and engage new audiences, including a wheelchair tag rugby team, a mixed ability team, and a walking rugby team, as well as its Sharks Forces project, which is aimed at supporting ex-service personnel, serving personnel and their families.
James Fletcher, Gallagher Branch Manager in Manchester and club liaison for Sale Sharks, commented: “The Project Rugby at Home series is a fantastic initiative that we’re very proud to support at a local level. With grassroots rugby on hold at the moment, it can be challenging for young rugby enthusiasts to get their sporting fix – and the sessions provide an opportunity for young people to stay connected with their local club, and help them to look forward to a return to play once lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“As the title partner of Premiership Rugby, encouraging local youngsters to participate in grassroots rugby is something we’re passionate about. We hope that by giving local young players the chance to interact with – and quiz - some of their rugby heroes, as well as providing an insight into what commitment and hard work can lead to, we inspire even more of them to get involved in the game.”
Simon Hammersley said: “It was a real privilege to co-host the latest Project Rugby at Home session, and it was great to see so much enthusiasm among the young participants – reinforcing just how engaged younger members of the community are with the sport.
“I started playing rugby at the age of five, so I’m well aware of the positive impact the game can have on young people’s health, wellbeing and self-confidence. Project Rugby is playing a valuable role in inspiring a whole new generation of rugby talent at grassroots level, as well as helping individuals develop important life skills, such as teamwork and resilience, and I was delighted to be able to share my story.”
Katy Daley-Mclean MBE added: “As somebody who is passionate about challenging barriers to participation in the game, regardless of gender, background, or ability, I’m delighted to have taken part in the latest instalment in the Project Rugby at Home series, and to have spoken about how rugby has empowered me to get me where I am today, both on and off the pitch.
“It’s brilliant to see the transformational effect Project Rugby is having in terms of engaging so many youth players with initiatives such as these, as well as driving increased involvement and engagement in the game from underrepresented groups, and encouraging future stars of the game.”