Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 @ 12:45
Harlequins’ success at Streatham-Croydon RFC celebrated for attracting players from non-traditional backgrounds.
Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch has praised Project Rugby for its success in reaching out to local ethnic and disabled groups, who are traditionally under-represented in rugby union.
Speaking at Streatham-Croydon RFC, where she was meeting local youngsters from Project Rugby school Riddlesdown Collegiate and club officials who have been working together with the Harlequins Foundation on Project Rugby since 2017, Crouch said: "We are committed to getting more people playing sport in their community.
“It's great to see the Premiership, its clubs and the RFU working together to grow the game at the grassroots by reaching people who may have previously thought the sport was not for them.”
Project Rugby is a grassroots community programme, which aims to attract young people from Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, areas of high deprivation and those with disabilities to try rugby union and join their local grassroots rugby clubs. It is a joint initiative, delivered by Premiership Rugby clubs in consultation with England Rugby regional workforce and grassroots clubs.
Paul Wilson, Project Rugby officer at Harlequins, said: “There are so many different ways that people can enjoy the game of rugby. We can take the game and use its values, and what it can teach people in terms of enjoyment and respect and discipline through games like tag and touch.
“What we've done through the Harlequins Foundation and Project Rugby is introduce a lot of non-contact multi-directional games and use rugby as a way to engage people in a different way.
“It's a strong educational tool, most people think education happens in the classroom but we've seen here at Streatham & Croydon the culmination of the work that's gone in to the values around respect, making sure the young lads know how to communicate effectively and that's been a great focus.”
Wayne Morris, Director of Community & CSR at Premiership Rugby, said: “Over the next four years we plan to involve one million young people in the game through our community work. Project Rugby is one pillar of that plan and reflects the aims and ambitions of Sport England to drive up participation in sport among ethnic groups and poorer communities.
“Project Rugby has reached more than 7,500 young people in our first year, since we launched in October 2017. The second year of the project will start in the autumn and I’d like to thank all of those who have helped deliver the programme in its first year.”
Since Project Rugby started in 2017 more than 7,500 people have participated in the project from the three target groups: BAME people, young people from low income areas and those with disabilities. Of these, nearly 850 have made the transition into one of over 85 RFU affiliated grassroots clubs. The transition rates represent a significant injection of young people in the grassroots game and a positive step forward in increasing the diversity of people playing the game at an amateur level.
“The results among disabled youngsters are impressive and on track to deliver over and above any other scheme,” Morris added. “The impact of Project Rugby has supported the growth of mixed ability teams across England.
“One of the things we are most proud of is the impact Project Rugby has had on the young people with learning disabilities.
“Often, PE and sport can be intimidating for them and they feel isolated by team sports. Project Rugby helps promote their confidence and skills and helps them take up mixed ability rugby more than anything else I have seen to date.”
Steve Grainger, Rugby Development Director at the RFU said: “Offering opportunities for underrepresented groups to play the sport is a key goal for the RFU. We want to take the game into communities where rugby isn’t widely available and demonstrate not only how much fun the game is but the skills and benefits it brings a player – confidence, teamwork, resilience, and wellbeing to name a few.
“The number of people who have tried the sport through Project Rugby is a testament to the strength and success of the programme and the RFU is particularly pleased that so many people are transitioning into local clubs and continuing to play rugby.”
Bob Hayes, Streatham & Croydon RFC Vice President said: “We're a community club but with the demographic that we have it's very hard to recruit from areas that generally have not played rugby. Project Rugby is one of the best things that I think has happened to this club in many years.
“It's getting children involved from local schools, they know where it is now and it can provide a platform for them to come through and play adult rugby. To have a name like Harlequins involved with us is tremendous and it will be key to us thriving in the future.”