The iconic Trafalgar Square provided the perfect backdrop for a special afternoon of rugby yesterday, as Premiership Rugby celebrated their successful Rugby4All programme.
Rugby4All is Premiership Rugby's innovative programme which is backed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and run in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to increase the number of women and girls involved in the sport, to provide better access for disabled people and to promote the game among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups.
Today, a host of children took part in the Rugby4All session at Trafalgar Square, as they were given guidance by coaches from Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs and four professional players, who also participated:
Harlequins Joe Marchant, England women’s star Rachael Burford and Saracens duo Nathan Earle and Biyi Alo.
Wayne Morris, Aviva Premiership Rugby’s Community and CSR Director, said: “A scheme like this and a partnership with an organisation like the Equality and Human Rights Commission really provides us with the right skillset and expertise to get out into the communities that are newer to our sport and get them involved.”
“There are some perceived stereotypes around the game that are not necessarily true anymore but we do need to work harder to provide more opportunities for people to play and break that stereotypical mould.
“The event in Trafalgar Square provides us with a fantastic location right in the centre of London and with a World Cup Final at the weekend, there is no better time for us to showcase the work that is going on day in, day out across communities from Newcastle to Exeter.
Premiership Rugby are committed to spreading the sport beyond its traditional heartlands and their Rugby4All programme is leading the charge.
“A programme like Rugby4All is fantastic, especially at a time like this when you can use the Rugby World Cup and the power and influence of our fantastic Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs involved, to really take rugby out to a new audience and give everyone a chance to play this fantastic game.” said Morris.
Delivered by Premiership Rugby clubs following backing from the DCMS and a £600,000 grant by EHRC for the two-year initiative, the Rugby4All programme aims to recruit and train 240 BAME coaches.
In high BAME communities, 1,800 primary school children will be given opportunities to try rugby, and there will be taster sessions for 600 11-15 year olds, with 240 of them progressing into a player development programme.
The new scheme will also provide 7,200 secondary school girls with the chance to play rugby, and support female players to join local rugby clubs. In addition, 480 teachers and volunteers will be trained to support the growth of girls’ rugby.
Marchant, who scored six tries in this year’s Under-20 Six Nations for England, said: “I think events like this are massively important. It is great for people to have the chance to just get out there and give the sport a go.
“It is a really safe environment and they have the chance to express themselves away from the stress of school work.
“I wouldn’t mind having the chance to play here in Trafalgar Square myself; it is a pretty sweet view and place to play rugby.”
It was part of a four-day event hosted by the RFU to showcase a number of its programmes encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in rugby.
The event, supported by the Mayor of London, forms part of the RFU's legacy strategy to grow the game in this country.
Rugby4All is Premiership Rugby's innovative programme backed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and run in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission. For more information about the Rugby4All programme including how to get involved, please visit premiershiprugby.com/rugby4all.