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Rugby selected to build ‘character and resilience’ in schools

With a home World Cup on the horizon and the sport set to join the Olympic movement in 2016, rugby has never been in a healthier position in the UK.

And Premiership Rugby’s innovative national programme, On The Front Foot, is the perfect way to create an even stronger legacy according to community director Wayne Morris.

A programme that will run in schools across England, On The Front Foot uses rugby, and its core values such as respect and discipline, to instil character and resilience in disaffected children through classroom and outdoor activity.

The scheme is being piloted during the summer term before being fully rolled out nationwide in September and Morris believes it can help many young people reach for the stars.

"I think it’s fundamental to instil these values in youngsters. I think what we see now is young people coming out of schools with good academic qualifications," he explained.

"But what we’re starting to understand is that for them to really succeed in life, that they need more than that – they need the character traits to prepare them for further education, work and society as a whole.

"We think that rugby has got some very strong core values that we can take from the game and transfer that learning into the classroom and into practical activity for these young people.

"The profile of the sport has really grown and it’s time to use that and use the influence and the core values to help benefit society as a whole."

The 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs, in addition to London Welsh and Bristol Rugby, will help deliver the programme nationwide come September.

Working in primary and secondary schools, the scheme, will reach more than 17,000 pupils. It is receiving funding from the Department for Education and former England flanker Hendre Fourie, who now works for Sale Sharks’ community department, believes the benefits will be wide-ranging.

"You can make a huge difference in a kid’s life if you start them off on the right path," explained Fourie.

"From my personal experience through playing rugby and having the core values, it works for me now even in retirement.

"Whenever I had an injury and had to get back from that – all that heart makes you stronger and helps you bounce back from the setbacks."

St. John’s R.C. Primary School in Manchester were one of the schools selected to pilot the scheme earlier this week and Director of PE and Sport Hannah Vecchione claims it could hardly have been more successful.

"It was great. The children absolutely loved it and had a really good time – it was very exciting to meet everyone and talk to them about the programme," said Vecchione.

"I think it will make a big difference for the kids – it is something that immediately engages them."

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