Amelie, who has a visual impairment, suffered from a lack of confidence on and off the pitch which prevented her getting involved with rugby and other sporting activities. However, since a Project Rugby session led by Exeter Chiefs visited her school, the youngster has developed a newfound passion for physical activity.

Premiership Rugby’s Project Rugby programme is delivered in conjunction with partners Gallagher, title partner of Premiership Rugby, and the RFU and is designed to introduce as many people as possible to the benefits of rugby. Having engaged more than 75,000 young people, like Amelie, since the programme started, Project Rugby aims to encourage more players from ethnically diverse or low socio-economic backgrounds, and those with disabilities to trial rugby, via sessions delivered at more than 200 locations across England which are welcoming and easily accessible to participants.

“We visited Amelie in a session at Honiton College,” said Chiefs’ Community Development Manager, Richard Bright.

Exeter Chiefs and Project Rugby have combined to create a new love of sport for Honiton youngster Amelie Ford

“She had never played rugby before, and she was very reserved and quiet, because she had always avoided team games - she never wanted to get herself in that situation. She has since attended after school sessions by choice - so she has come to get involved - and we did a girl’s taster day at Honiton Rugby Club, which is situated at the college.

“She came along to that and got involved in an organisation with other visually impaired players. She was interested in hooking up with them, becoming part of a team and when she came out of her shell, when she threw herself into the sessions and specifically when the contact element came into it, she absolutely stood out.

“The coaches that went in there are always amazed how she was just in a classroom with 30 other girls, yet you wouldn’t know because she was absolutely phenomenal with everything she did.”

Project Rugby, run by Premiership Rugby in collaboration with England Rugby, is designed to increase participation in the game by people from traditionally underrepresented groups. Amelie is among the countless youngsters who have benefited from the programme and now has hopes of joining a rugby club, though it is the impact that the sport has had on every aspect of her life that has been most important.

Bright added: “We’ve gone back and we’ve seen her on more than one occasion, and every time she seems to have grown. She is more confident, she is more vocal in sessions. I have had feedback from teachers saying she has now started other team sports or is having a go, which is something that worried her and she shied away from beforehand.

Exeter Chiefs and Project Rugby have combined to create a new love of sport for Honiton youngster Amelie Ford

“Joining a rugby team of some description is a massive target for her and we would love her to do that, but the big thing for her is that this has brought her on in the sense that she is making more friends, she is a more confident person and she feels like she can be more involved.

“That’s the thing going forward, whether she takes that into work, into rugby, or another sport, it’ll definitely help her in that sense.”

Charles Scott, Chief Financial Officer at partner Gallagher, and a Project Rugby volunteer ‘said: “Amelie’s story is a real demonstration of the impact that Project Rugby can have. It’s not just about her taking up sport and the benefits that this brings, it’s about how playing rugby has increased her confidence in different aspects of her life. It really is heart-warming for us to know that by partnering with Project Rugby we are helping improve the lives of young people across the UK.”

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