London Irish are one of 14 clubs taking part in Project Rugby, a new grassroots engagement initiative by England Rugby and Premiership Rugby designed to increase participation in under-represented communities.
Project Rugby will specifically engage Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic people, people from low socio-economic backgrounds and disabled people, aged 14-24 with rugby union.
The project aims to reach over 12,000 participants by Summer 2018 by providing accessible opportunities to play rugby, in over 200 community locations across England, transitioning new players and volunteers into local grassroots rugby clubs. The project’s innovative approach will utilise rugby’s core values to increase levels of resilience and confidence among participants, as well as helping people to feel more connected to their local community.
Funded by a major investment, Project Rugby will utilise the knowledge of both organisations in growing participation in new communities and increasing diversity in the game.
Andy Keast, head of community at London Irish, said: “London Irish are fully behind Project Rugby and its aim of bringing the game to new audiences throughout Berkshire, Hampshire and Middlesex. Our prominent role in the community, along with our strategic planning of working towards becoming inclusive and open to everyone is high on our agenda.
“Working closely with other parties, we are looking forward to changing perceptions of rugby union currently held by those who may not traditionally think the sport is for them. The Project Rugby initiatives within our community will give new participants the chance to enjoy the fantastic benefits of rugby, hopefully creating fans for life while growing our game further”.
Wayne Morris, community and corporate social responsibility director at Premiership Rugby said: “We’re delighted to announce the launch of Project Rugby, a landmark partnership between Premiership Rugby and England Rugby which combines the assets of the professional clubs and the governing body to help the game reach out to new communities.
“This ground-breaking new initiative, that builds on our previous programming, will see young people from disadvantaged communities, black, Asian and ethnic minority groups and disabled people across England given the opportunity to participate in regular rugby activity. We will be putting rugby on the agenda for the first time for many participants. Rugby is built on core values, Project Rugby will not only increase the number of people playing the game but will also harness these values, providing participants with essential life skills.
Steve Grainger, rugby development director at England Rugby, said: “The Project Rugby partnership with Premiership Rugby is incredibly significant for rugby union in England as we aim to demonstrate that it can be a sport for everyone.
“Having all 14 Premiership Rugby partner clubs actively engaging with these communities gives us a fantastic reach across the country and we’re looking forward to seeing new people participating in the game. Rugby has a unique ability to increase self-confidence and wellbeing as well as bringing people together and we want as many people as possible to benefit from the sport.”
For more information or to find out about a Project Rugby session near you, visit www.projectrugby.co.uk.