While Exeter Chiefs’ community delivery manager Andrew Dudley would love to win Premiership Rugby’s Urban Rugby Squad title for the second year, he says generating even more success stories from the project is priority number one.
The Urban Rugby Squad is a ground-breaking initiative run by Premiership Rugby and its clubs, helping 1,000 young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England.
In its first year, the scheme helped 778 young people and delivered 136 personal development workshops on topics such as anger management and sexual health.
And Dudley was thrilled to see the success of the programme stretch well beyond the Chiefs thrilling victory in last year’s finale at the Twickenham Stoop.
“This year it would be good to repeat the success we had last year – the trophy and winning is great, but the crux is getting young people into activity and back on track through what we do,” he said.
“We have some really good success stories, there’s some people still playing and others having gone into local clubs.
“That’s the main success, it’s great to win trophies but if they never touch a rugby ball again that’s a negative outcome, so to see people continue to enjoy the game is what makes us happy.
“If we have the same outcomes this year that will be the biggest success factor, it’s great to win but we want to get some positive outcomes.
“It was brilliant to see such a variety of people from different backgrounds last year. The different teams were swapping stories about their experiences and how they got into rugby which was awesome.
“It’s a real celebration of young people playing rugby and being active, and any event that does that in my eyes is great.”
Dudley and his coaches visited a variety of community sites around Exeter at the end of the last academic year to try and find new players for this summer’s scheme.
And he is looking forward to repeating Exeter’s on and off-the-field success when the National Urban Rugby Squad Festival gets underway at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium on October 26.
“We got a really good uptake and that’s down to the hard work of the coaches at the Chiefs, they work really well with the young people on the programme,” Dudley added.
“I want everyone from the programme to stay with some form of exercise, if that’s rugby that’s great if it’s not that’s not the end of the world.
“If we have made a positive impact over the past couple of months that’s all that matters to me. I feel like I have won regardless of what happens on the pitch.”