Hugh O’Sullivan arrived at London Irish ready to support the community which welcomed him.

Scrum Half Hugh O’Sullivan’s commitment to give back to the community who regularly turn out to support the first XV squad stood out from day one when he moved to London Irish.

With a passion and drive to help others, Hugh was keen to get among those who needed support within the local community. Initially assisting with delivering rugby-based fitness activities with the Foundation working on the Homeless BEAT Project, he then got involved with Project Rugby, with a particular focus on working with SEN groups in the area.

Hugh is just one inspirational individual being celebrated during Round 22 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby (14 – 16th April). Over the weekend all games will be dedicated to the award-winning community programmes run by the 11 Clubs and Club foundations. In a celebration of how rugby has the power to change lives, every club will showcase the community work taking place, sharing stories of some of the individuals supported on these programmes, and the people who make them possible.

Project Rugby 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. The programme was launched to ensure that everyone can experience the benefits of playing rugby, with the support of volunteers like Hugh. With a specific focus on engaging participants from traditionally underrepresented groups, no matter their background or ability, it facilitates sessions for anyone to try out the sport loved by so many. Coaches and volunteers from Premiership Rugby Clubs and Club Foundations across the nation run sessions that are easily accessible within their local communities.

Project Rugby has been running since 2017 and nearly 85,000 people have participated in sessions held at over 200 different locations across England. Harnessing rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline, and sportsmanship, the programme has inspired and motivated many people to seek out local teams to play rugby so they can continue to reap the benefits of playing regularly.

Hugh talks of why he’s so involved: ‘‘I want to give back and contribute to the community I now find myself living in. Coaching with the London Irish Foundation and the local amateur club is something I take great pride in. It is always nice to be able to pass on a bit of rugby knowledge, but more importantly it’s about ensuring the participants enjoy themselves and want to come back the following week.’’ 

His outstanding commitment to supporting others through his work with the London Irish Foundation is set to continue. Hugh attended the Project Rugby Inclusion Festival before the game against Newcastle Falcons where he supported participants to deliver an inspiring event. He has also committed his ongoing involvement with the SEN Project Rugby sessions and as a true team player, has already signed up to the Purple Socks Inclusion Festival taking place in December. 

Always on hand to provide coaching tips despite his own busy training and playing schedule meant the senior amateur team at the club, the London Irish Wild Geese, were delighted when Hugh also agreed to take on a position coaching with them.  

Wayne Morris, Community & CSR Director, Premiership Rugby says: ‘‘Hugh is an inspiration to our rugby family and demonstrates why we are committed to future-proofing programmes like Project Rugby. Through these programmes our clubs and players can really embed themselves in their local communities and make a difference. We believe everyone can benefit from the core values of rugby and it has the power to change lives. Our players are hugely inspiring and have the ability to encourage and motivate those who have never picked up a ball before to give it a try. Huge thanks goes to Hugh and indeed all our players, staff, and volunteers, without their support these programmes wouldn’t be possible.’’

Charles Scott, Chief Financial Officer at partner Gallagher, and a Project Rugby volunteer said: “We are passionate about the fantastic work Project Rugby does and Hugh’s efforts are a great example of why this initiative is so important. Through his hard work many more people will be able to get involved in rugby instilling confidence and determination in them for many years to come. This really demonstrates the power of rugby and the rewards of playing this great sport.”

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