As the proud partner of grassroots initiative Project Rugby, Gallagher is shining a light on inspirational participants whose lives have changed incomparably after finding the sport via the programme.

Project Rugby is a grassroots programme which aims to tackle underrepresentation and introduce as many young people as possible to the benefits of rugby no matter their background or level of ability. Sessions are delivered by community staff from Premiership Rugby’s shareholder clubs at over 200 different locations. These sessions challenge preconceptions and reframe rugby to encourage initial participation. These positive experiences showcase the diversity and inclusivity of rugby and reinforce the social and emotional benefits to be gained.

Lichfield Rugby Club - Kye Rogers:

Through Project Rugby, Lichfield Rugby Club has helped change the life of 16-year-old Kye Rogers. Thanks to Project Rugby and charity Liberty Jamboree, Kye was introduced to the game and has become a hugely popular member of the team having previously struggled with poor behaviour which affected his day-to-day life.

Project Rugby – shining a light on inspirational stories

Kye, who has autism and Tourette syndrome, always found it difficult to focus on a task and fully commit to activities. However, since starting touch rugby sessions at Lichfield, his behaviour and engagement with sport and other activities has improved and he is now a key member of the squad.

Dave Lote, who runs the sessions on Thursday evenings, saw real potential in Kye’s ability on the rugby field and is proud of how far he has come on over the years.

Dave said: “When he first started, Kye was obsessed with NFL, so he would refuse to pass the rugby ball like a rugby ball, he would always do it like a quarter-back. He likes Tom Brady a lot. But over the last couple of years, he has developed massively with his passing. He actually passes the ball like a rugby ball now. He’s a good lad, he’s a character and we all really enjoy having him here!’

For Dave, the sessions – which are offered to a wide mix of ages from 14-22 who traditionally might never have picked up a rugby ball - are all about ensuring everyone enjoys themselves, while adhering to the values of rugby and taking them into everyday life.

Dave continued: “It sounds like a cliché to say ‘rugby is for all’ but it definitely is and that needs to be promoted more. With teams like Lichfield and other local teams getting on board through Project Rugby, it is really important to have those links with the Premiership clubs.”

A massive Leicester Tigers fan, Kye has enjoyed emulating his hero Jack van Poortvliet on the field wearing Tigers kit donated by Project Rugby.

Kye said: “It’s been great playing rugby, I’m a big Leicester Tigers fan and I love the aggression of the game. I look up to Jack van Poortvliet and try to replicate his game. It’s really special to wear Leicester Tigers kit and feel like one of the team and I love wearing it. My favourite part of the game is scoring tries, there is nothing better!”

Lote continues: “When you kit them out with the full kit, the smiles on their faces last forever, and it is all about what memories you can make for them.

“The progression as individuals and as a group is massive. They understand the respect that rugby brings, whether that is following rules, working as a team, or sportsmanship, so shaking hands at the end, for example, is huge. The values that are embedded within our sport are vital to everyone - it is really important that we keep spreading that message to get involved.”

Project Rugby – shining a light on inspirational stories

Saracens Foundation – Sam Dunstan:

Sam Dunstan has turned his long-held passion for rugby into a career, and it all started when he found Project Rugby. Sam Dunstan is a 24-year-old from London who grew up supporting Harlequins, but when his parents heard about mixed ability Project Rugby sessions run by the Saracens Foundation they signed him up in a heartbeat.

Sam, who has a hearing impairment, quickly settled into the sessions. “In my first training session I was nervous because I’d never met these people before,” he said. “It took me a while to build up confidence but it was great fun.”

Now a leader on and off the pitch, Project Rugby has helped Sam transform from timid teenager to assistant coach in Monday night training sessions, helping coaches and players communicate using sign-supported English.

Saracens Foundation coach Ryan Eaton said: “Without Sam being there, we would have struggled to connect and get other children involved. Sam is so proficient and so confident when he’s coaching. When he’s playing, he’s smiling and he has an understanding that, in rugby, it’s great to win but there’s also that sense of teamwork and the whole ‘let’s get everybody playing’. Whenever we get a new participant, he will come in and help look after them which is why we’ve employed him.”

Having now completed his Level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications, Sam has found work touring deaf schools locally to coach various sports, all whilst playing for the Chobham Chargers and still finding time to offer a helping hand at Saracens Foundation on a Monday night.

Sam said: “We get new faces coming in all the time and I like to pass down the rules to the younger generation. It’s great fun playing on a Monday night, developing our skills and communication abilities. I always say that Saracens is my second home.”

Charles Scott, Chief Financial Officer at partner Gallagher, and a Project Rugby volunteer said: “Hearing these stories from Kye and Sam highlights the incredible work being done by Project Rugby.

“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 is a vital part of that. Rugby delivers much more than access to a new sport – opening up so many personal development opportunities for young people and enabling them to hone invaluable life skills such as teamwork and discipline - and Project Rugby is helping take those benefits to an ever-growing audience of young people who might not otherwise have been able to access the game.”

Wayne Morris, Community and CSR Director Premiership Rugby, adds: “Project Rugby is delivered using flexible delivery models easily adapted to suit participants needs to build confidence. We are committed to sustaining the future of the sport for young people no matter their ability or disability. Since the start of the programme it has provided opportunities for over 84,000* young people to play and helped create 22 new mixed ability teams nationwide to increase diversity in the sport.”

To find out more about Project Rugby and to find a session near you, visit