Premiership Rugby’s award-winning Try Rugby programme has launched in Rio de Janeiro.
Run in conjunction with the British Council, SESI in Brazil and with support from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Try Rugby has been universally acclaimed as a huge success since starting in 2012.
The community project uses rugby to encourage young Brazilians to live a more active and healthy lifestyle, while instilling the core values of rugby.
Ahead of the introduction of Rugby 7s at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Premiership Rugby, in partnership with the British Council and SESI, is expanding the scheme, with more than 15,000 young people aged six to 17 already receiving rugby coaching each week.
As well as giving youngsters the opportunity of playing rugby for the first time, Try Rugby is designed to help them to develop skills such as work team, leadership and discipline. The programme also aims at extending the cultural exchange and the English language knowledge through engaging British and Brazilian youngsters.
Premiership Rugby already has 13 community coaches working in Brazil and with the project expanding another three will join them. Rugby coach Dom Caton – who previously worked at the Exeter Chiefs – will be responsible for the activities in Rio.
"Premiership Rugby is about so much more than the rugby on the pitch and the Try Rugby programme is a great example of the good that this great game can do," said Wayne Morris, Community and CSR Director at Premiership Rugby.
"Try Rugby has been a huge success in Brazil for some time – most notably in São Paulo – and it is extremely significant to see it start in Rio de Janeiro today.
"This innovative programme uses the strength of rugby and knowledge, infrastructure and expertise of each partner to deploy Premiership Rugby's world-class coaching staff into Brazilian communities to engage with children and young people to deliver health, education and social outcomes whilst promoting the growth of rugby union at the same time."
"Try Rugby disseminates rugby in Brazil, encouraging and motivating people to learn about the sport and practice it. The focus of the project is on social inclusion and mass participation of children, youngsters and adults, rather than identifying talents."
Try Rugby Rio Objectives:
• Help to grow the sport of rugby in Brazil in the lead up to Rio 2016.
• To use rugby as a tool to support the social inclusion of 'at risk' or disadvantaged young people in Brazil and the development of valuable skills such as leadership.
• Build links between the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs in the UK and SESI centres in Brazil to co-create resources and share best practice in the use of rugby for social inclusion and the development of young people.
• To share knowledge and best practice in rugby with teachers, coaches and young volunteers creating a sustainable workforce.
The British Council are a key partner of the programme and their Vice-country Director Eric Klug said: "The British Council is extremely proud of Try Rugby Brazil, the largest rugby development initiative in the country and a life-changing programme for more than 15,000 people from a number of cities in the state of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul and Rio de Janeiro.
"The rugby coaches are seen as ambassadors for the UK and for rugby, teaching and learning as they develop links of friendship and trust between the UK and Brazil.
"Thus, this project – unprecedented in Brazil, becomes a great opportunity for cultural exchange and sports for 15,000 children and young people."
Try Rugby will be developed in Rio through a partnership between Premiership Rugby, British Council and Sistema Firjan (Industries Federation in Rio de Janeiro) with the sponsorship of Land Rover.
At the official ceremony in Rio, last night, more than 150 children took part in coaching activities.
The programme is now into its third year and has seen:
• More than 15,000 participants playing every week in Brazil, which has doubled the rugby playing base in Brazil
• More than 54,000 young people and adults taking coaching sessions, workshops, coach education, events and competitions
• Around 300 teachers and volunteer coaches now able to teach tag rugby and referee games (key to making the project sustainable)
The programme is another step in Premiership Rugby's expansion overseas with programmes run this year in neighbouring countries Colombia and Argentina.