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McCafferty hails Urban Rugby Squad

Mark McCafferty knows the challenge of connecting with youngsters – and that is why the Premiership Rugby chief executive is so excited about Urban Rugby Squad.

Urban Rugby Squad is a ground-breaking initiative that will give youngsters from other non-traditional rugby communities a chance to experience the sport.

During an 18-week period, the programme will give an estimated 1,000 14-16 year olds from disadvantaged communities the chance to participate in regular sporting activity as well as personal development workshops that use rugby as an inspiration.

McCafferty was on hand to help launch the Urban Rugby Squad at Westway Sports and Fitness Centre in west London.

"It's clear we have to find new ways of communicating with young people," he said. "The Urban Rugby Squad is one of those ways.

"Young people can relate to sport very easily as a way of making new relationships, having fun and getting physical activity – all of those things that improve quality of life and life choices.

"I think every single project has an impact and if they're delivered in a way that is relevant to young people then it can have a cumulative impact."

In partnership with BT Sport's The Supporters Club and Restart Rugby, the official charity of the Rugby Players' Association, the Urban Rugby Squad will be run across all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs this summer.

"Over the next few weeks we'll be enrolling over 1,000 people into these Urban Rugby Squads," said McCafferty. "Those players will then get tailored coaching from our staff to not only make them better rugby players but to capture some of those values of the sport and apply those to their everyday life.

"We'll be reaching out into new communities and putting rugby on their agenda for the first time.

"It's a huge year coming up with not only the Rugby World Cup in England but this time next year we'll have our eyes focused on the Olympics in Rio and rugby is making its return in the form of the sevens where GB will be represented in both the men's and women's game."

In August the clubs will come together for a festival where an Urban Rugby Squad will be selected to represent each side at a national festival in London in October.

Meanwhile, the personal development workshops will focus on areas including anger management, drugs/alcohol misuse and sexual health and McCafferty is looking forward to witnessing the results.

He added: "We need to bring some of the benefits, the good and the advantages of the game to young people around the country, which is what Urban Rugby Squad will do.

"I hope that the young people trying this sport for the first time will come to love it the way that we all do but more than that, come to love what it can bring to you, as an individual as a team and what it can do in terms of relationships that you build.

"We're looking forward to expanding the reach of our sport and bringing it to more young people over the course of the next year."

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