Terry Fanolua has brought together four entirely disparate Gloucester communities into one big melting pot for Monday’s National Tag Rugby Festival final.
Premiership Rugby’s fantastic Urban Rugby Squad programme in partnership with BT Sport’s The Supporters Club, and Restart Rugby, the Official Charity of The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) will be showcased in a National Tag Rugby Festival on Monday 26th October.
The big day begins at Richmond College at 11am. The two Semi-Finals (at 3.45pm) and the Final (4.15pm) are on the main pitch at the Twickenham Stoop where an Urban Rugby Squad will have been selected to represent each Premiership Rugby side. Entry is free at the Twickenham Stoop and all are welcome to attend.
Former Cherry & Whites legend Fanolua is now a community coach at Kingsholm and has drawn his playing squad from the Muslim community (MY:UK), the Czech Roma community, the Jamaican community (Increase the Peace) and the children from troubled homes (Vibe).
And Fanolua cannot wait to see his Gloucester charges come together for the uniting cause of rugby.
“To be honest it has been quite tough trying to get a team together,” he said.
“We have gone in to four different clubs in the city of Gloucester to recruit, the thinking was that we wanted to get people who had never played the game and had no idea about it.
“Rugby is great to try and encourage interaction, to bring people together. It has been very successful and for us the kids have really got involved.
“We have got girls involved as well – Grace Dunford will be playing for us. That was a big thing for me, I was very keen to try and get girls involved.
“These are kids from four different communities, all from different backgrounds, different religions and beliefs and then on Monday they are going to come together and play for each other.
“We want to enjoy the day, enjoy the occasion and get everyone having a good time. That’s what it’s all about – rugby brings people together.”
The Urban Rugby Squad programme supports young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England participating in regular sporting activity and personal development workshops that use rugby as inspiration on areas including anger management, drugs/alcohol misuse, sexual health and physical fitness assessment.
And Fanolua hopes they can piggyback on the enthusiasm created by the ongoing Rugby World Cup to get the next generation involved with rugby.
“We have run a few sessions down at the Fanzone to try give kids that experience,” he added.
“This is what the World Cup is all about, it has boosted interest and it is great to see kids absolutely buzzing – especially with some games happening at Kingsholm.”
The Urban Rugby Squad is a ground-breaking new initiative run by Premiership Rugby and its clubs which has seen a thousand young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England participate in regular sporting activity and personal development. The programme has received substantial backing from BT Sport, through its charitable initiative The Supporters Club and Restart Rugby, the Official Charity of The Rugby Players' Association (RPA). A documentary about the Urban Rugby Squad is on BT Sport 1 on 1 November. For more details see premiershiprugby.com/UrbanRugbySquad.
Urban Rugby Squad: Adam Goga, Teo Westcar, Anas Raiman, D’Andre Bartlet, Hamza Atcha, Nathan Webb, Huzaifa Pillugi, Grace Dunford, Jay Bourne, Connor Miles, Callum Miles