Rugby is on an upwards curve in the UK and the head of BT’s Consumer operation, which includes BT Sport, John Petter, is hopeful that the burgeoning relationship between BT Sport’s The Supporters Club and Premiership Rugby can contribute to that growth with Urban Rugby Squad.
The Supporters Club, the broadcaster’s charitable initiative, and Premiership Rugby have been working together for the past couple of years through the Something To Chew On healthy eating and nutrition initiative.
This comes on top of BT Sport and Premiership Rugby recently extending their partnership for broadcasting Aviva Premiership Rugby until 2021.
The Supporters Club aims to build a better world by bringing people together through sport. Donations from BT and its customers are invested into projects selected in partnership with Comic Relief.
When customers sign up to BT Sport, they are able to make a recurring £1, £3 or £5 monthly subscription to The Supporters Club.
In the short-term, BT Sport’s The Supporters Club will combine with the RPA's Restart Rugby charity to help deliver Urban Rugby Squad – a programme designed to give youngsters from non-traditional rugby communities a chance to experience the sport.
The scheme, which will engage an estimated 1,000 14-16 year olds in an 18-week period, will also see the teenagers take part in personal development workshops that use rugby as an inspiration.
Petter is convinced the groundbreaking initiative can only be a good thing for rugby in the country.
“We’re hugely excited to be a part of Urban Rugby Squad – it’s a fantastic initiative that Premiership Rugby are leading,” explained Petter.
“BT Sport and The Supporters Club are hugely proud to be a part of it and it’s going to make a huge difference to many young people’s lives.
“It’s teaching them values of leadership, respect and self-discipline through the medium of sport, so that has to be a good thing.
“It’s a very close relationship that we have with Premiership Rugby – and The Supporters Club is our means to be involved in the grassroots of the sport.
All 12 Premiership Rugby clubs will be running Urban Rugby Squad this summer and each side will then be represented at a national festival in London in October.
Recently retired Harlequins, England and British & Irish Lions winger Ugo Monye was on hand at Westway Sports and Fitness Centre in west London alongside Petter to help launch the programme.
Petter insists the involvement of former professionals makes the programme even more special.
“It’s great to have professionals involved and it shows the spirit of people like Ugo that they are prepared to roll their sleeves up, muck in and get involved to get the kids inspired,” added Petter.
“You’ve got to talk to them in a way that is accessible and sport is a great way to do that because it’s a universal language – especially rugby in my view.
“I think the kids will get a huge amount from it because the thing about rugby is that it’s a team sport and therefore you learn those values of leadership which are hugely important in today’s world.
“The life skills will make a huge difference to all the young people involved.”