Nearly 100 participants in the award-winning Project Rugby community programme recently came together from across the country in a festival of rugby to celebrate welcoming its 75,000th player.
The programme – delivered through partnership with Gallagher, Premiership Rugby and England Rugby and launched in 2017 – seeks to bring about societal change. By working with the 13 Gallagher Premiership Rugby clubs, across more than 200 locations in England, Project Rugby aims to increase participation in the game by underrepresented groups including people from ethnically diverse communities, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those with disabilities.
To understand what makes Project Rugby so special, and see the 75,000th festival celebrations in action, take a look at our short film.
Charlie Scott, Chief Financial Officer for Gallagher across EMEA and a Project Rugby volunteer, added: “It’s incredible to see Project Rugby hit this major milestone of impact and participation, especially after all the challenges of the past two years. The clubs and community coaches did an extraordinary job in extraordinary times of keeping everyone engaged and enthusiastic for the return of on-pitch sessions and festivals. Now we are able to come together and celebrate all that is great about this grassroots rugby initiative.
“For everyone at Gallagher, hearing the many individual, often life-changing stories about the difference the programme delivers to young people in terms of life skills, confidence and capabilities, as well as seeing thousands transition into community clubs, makes us hugely proud to be a part of Project Rugby.”
One of the stars of the programme is Lara Corner, a Year 10 pupil at the Saracens High School, whose impact was acknowledged at the ceremony to mark the 75,000th player milestone.
Mike Dobson, Senior Development Manager at Saracens Foundation explained the impact made by this inspirational young woman, saying: “Lara started playing as part of the Project Rugby programme at school and has been a regular at training.
“She has a huge passion for the game and has joined Harrow Rugby Club who are trying to start up a girls’ rugby team. She has encouraged other girls to take part and has been an excellent role model and leader, helping a Year 9 girl go on to start playing at Finchley Rugby Club and make it through to the next round of Middlesex Trials. Lara has taken part in retention sessions held at StoneX Stadium and went to watch the men's Gallagher Premiership Rugby final at Twickenham last year where she met one of her role models, Shauna Brown.”
Wayne Morris, Community & Corporate Social Responsibility Director at Premiership Rugby, said: “Everyone at Premiership Rugby is focused on growing the game and a key part of this objective is the work we do in communities across England whether with Project Rugby or one of our other ground-breaking programmes.
“It makes everyone at Premiership Rugby and our partners, Gallagher and England Rugby, very proud to celebrate our 75,000th participant today - 75,000 young people who would otherwise not have been introduced to the game and all the benefits of playing rugby.”
In March, Gallagher and Premiership Rugby announced an additional investment in Project Rugby to improve the diversity of women and girls playing rugby regularly. The investment from the Asian Sports Foundation and Sport England will enable Premiership Rugby clubs to specifically target and engage female players from a range of ethnic backgrounds, to transition up to 200 new female players into local rugby clubs by summer 2022.
To find out more about Project Rugby and to find a session near you, visit: www.projectrugby.co.uk