London Irish are proud to announce the launch of their Disability programme as part of their Project Rugby inclusion initiative. The programme launched with 110 young people with disabilities visiting the Madejski Stadium to see behind the scenes as London Irish hosted Bath Rugby in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 4 November.

London Irish are one of 14 Premiership Rugby clubs taking part in Project Rugby, a new grassroots engagement initiative in partnership with England Rugby and Premiership Rugby designed to increase rugby participation in under-represented communities. The programme will specifically engage black, asian & minority ethnic people, people from low socio-economic backgrounds and people with disabilities aged 14 to 24 with rugby union with the aim to engage 12,000 participants by summer 2018 in over 200 community areas across England.

The 110 young people with disabilities and their family members received a warm welcome from the London Irish family led by the Exiles mascot, Digger, on arrival followed by photographs with London Irish’s second row, Franco van der Merwe, before heading into the stadium. 

Once inside the stadium, Exiles players Saia Fainga’a and Ciaran Hearn took part in a Q&A which gave all of the Project Rugby attendees the chance to hear what professional rugby players do on a day to day basis.

This was followed by photographs with London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy and a behind the scenes tour of the changing rooms while the players were warming up for the game.

The big finale was the opportunity for the group to form a guard of honour to cheer both London Irish and Bath Rugby onto the pitch before taking their seats to watch the teams battle it out.

London Irish inclusion officer Joseph Pegg who organised the launch felt that the day was a great success:

“Our main aim was to make sure that everyone involved had an enjoyable day and that was certainly the case!

“Thank you so much to all involved in getting everyone to the match and to Nick Kennedy and the London Irish players who contributed to ensuring the day was extra special.”

David from Addington School who was part of the Project Rugby group said: “It was the best day of my life”.

For more information or to find out about a Project Rugby session near you, please contact [email protected].

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