Project Rugby was created to introduce tens of thousands of people to the benefits of rugby. Encouraging girls, into a game which has historically been male-dominated, has always been a top priority and the fact that more women and girls are now regularly playing the sport is a testament to the success of Project Rugby.
Wayne Morris, Community & Corporate Social Responsibility Director at Premiership Rugby says “Introducing more than 30,000 girls to Project Rugby is a huge milestone for us and proves this programme works in reaching those who traditionally have not considered rugby. This also benefits the game at large as it strengthens and grows the game both on and off the pitch. This is only possible thanks to the passion and commitment of our community teams who support all young people to discover the power of sport.”
Emma Banks, External Communications Director, EMEA, at Gallagher says “We believe that every girl, no matter their background, age or ability, should have access to the same opportunities to play whatever sport they choose. It is important that sport is as inclusive and accessible as possible, which is why we are proudly committed to supporting Project Rugby.
“The community outreach that the project provides helps to break down barriers and make rugby more inclusive whatever your background or gender. Seeing the girls on the pitch interacting, laughing and playing the sport epitomises why programmes like Project Rugby are so important.”
Iris Antunes is just one young woman who, after being introduced to rugby aged 11 through a Project Rugby session held by the Saracens Foundation at Saracens High School, where her deputy headteacher is Saracens legend Sonia Green. Iris is now reaping the rewards of playing regularly.
Overcoming her misconceptions of rugby Iris, now 13, says “I didn’t want to play rugby as I didn’t want to get hurt. I thought you had to be highly intelligent to pull off tactical strategic moves. Now it’s my main sport! I love how it has improved my communication skills and has made me more disciplined. My advice to any girl who is interested in trying out rugby is just have a go, you will surprise yourself, but give it time, don’t expect to learn how to play overnight.”
Now looking to play for her local club, Iris continues to be inspired by professional female players including Georgia Evans, Anna Goddard and Jeani Vinuza.
Sydney Gregson, Saracens and England Women’s player comments “It fills me with joy to hear that players like Jeani and Anna are inspiring girls like Iris to keep on playing. With so many girls now taking so much from the game, it’s motivating for us professional players to keeping pushing, to keep raising the bar and showing up and coming players what is possible for women in the game.”
To find out for more information visit www.projectrugby.co.uk