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Saracens committed to the Urban Rugby Squad

Saracens committed to the Urban Rugby Squad

Saracens may still be basking in the afterglow of their Aviva Premiership Rugby success but their sports development officer Josh Ward is focused on inspiring the next generation with Urban Rugby Squad.

Sarries beat Bath Rugby 28-16 at Twickenham on May 30 to win their second league title in five years and Ward is hopeful that Urban Rugby Squad can unearth the next superstar for the side.

The programme is a ground-breaking initiative from Premiership Rugby that will give youngsters from non-traditional rugby communities a chance to experience the sport, in addition to running personal development workshops that use rugby as an inspiration.

An estimated 1,000 14-16 year olds from disadvantaged communities will engage with the scheme during an 18-week period this summer and Ward is keen to start spreading the rugby gospel.

"It's awesome – it's a great initiative and around our area in north London, we've got a potentially huge new audience that we can look to engage with," explained Ward, who will oversee and manage Saracens' delivery of Urban Rugby Squad.

"It's a great opportunity for us to get out there and engage new-to-rugby kids and share the passion we have for the sport and push them on.

"We pride all of our delivery on the core values and it's not just the rugby side of things, it's everyday life and that's a key message we always look to get out to the people that we work with.

"It's an improvement for hopefully everyone, not only practically but in and around school life and on into further education.

"It's important to build the relationships with the kids individually because it is a package programme.

"Rugby of course is the main part but off it we want to be supporting these guys and making sure they are getting the most out of it."
 
Saracens are just one of the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs running Urban Rugby Squad this summer and each side will be represented at a national festival in London in October.
 
The scheme, which is in partnership with BT Sport's The Supporters Club and Restart Rugby, the official charity of the Rugby Players' Association, was recently launched at Westway Sports and Fitness Centre in west London.
 
Saracens, London Irish, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers were all represented at the launch and Ward admits it's heartening to see the on-field rivals working together to improve the lives of young people off the pitch.
 
"All the clubs are striving towards the same goal which is hugely important," added Ward.
 
"Participation is key – we all love the sport we work within and we want to share that with people who might not necessarily have had that opportunity before.
 
"We're all working together, we all want that same outcome – there were a number of different clubs at the launch, a number of children from different areas and we're all working together to get that outcome."

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