Saracens community manager Josh Ward is thrilled with the way Premiership Rugby’s Urban Rugby Squad has introduced the sport to a host of new people in the north London area.
The Urban Rugby Squad programme is a ground-breaking initiative which continues to see 1,000 young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England participating in regular sporting activity and personal development workshops, which use rugby as inspiration on areas including anger management, drugs/alcohol misuse, sexual health and physical fitness assessment.
Premiership Rugby’s fantastic programme in partnership with BT Sport’s The Supporters Club, and Restart Rugby, the Official Charity of The Rugby Players’ Association, will be showcased in a National Tag Rugby Festival on Monday 26th October at Twickenham Stoop.
Saracens ran five satellite centres in the north London area and engaged with around 30 teenagers during the programme.
And Ward, who is Saracens’ sport development officer, said: “It has been a really good initiative which has helped us to engage with teenagers who otherwise might not have become involved with the sport.
“Those involved have already got a lot out of the programme. We are trying to drum home the core values of rugby and they have bought into what we are trying to do.
“This is an extended chance to be a part of the sport and to work on personal skills.
“The area where we work in north London is a heavily Asian-populated area so we are engaging with a lot of people who are new to rugby and a lot of the young lads who have come on to the programme and made use of the sessions have shown an extended interest into Saracens and also the game of rugby.
"With the Rugby World Cup, there has been additional interest in the sport and kids have been pointing out results where it would have been foreign to them before.
“It would be unfair to single out particular individuals who have done well because it has generally affected everyone on the programme really well.”
The National Tag Rugby Festival on Monday begins at Richmond College at 11am. The two Semi-Finals (at 3.45pm) and the Final (4.15pm) are then on the main pitch at the Twickenham Stoop, where entry is free and all are welcome to attend.
Ward added: “We’ve just finalised our squad as some of the players who were hopeful of playing are away, but we are really looking forward to the National Tag Rugby Festival final and it gives the teenagers a chance to perform on a national scale.”
The Urban Rugby Squad is a ground-breaking new initiative run by Premiership Rugby and its clubs which has seen a thousand young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England participate in regular sporting activity and personal development. The programme has received substantial backing from BT Sport, through its charitable initiative The Supporters Club and Restart Rugby, the Official Charity of The Rugby Players' Association (RPA). A documentary about the Urban Rugby Squad is on BT Sport 1 on 1 November. For more details see premiershiprugby.com/UrbanRugbySquad.
Urban Rugby Squad: Shiseer Pun, Christian Avram, Joseph Card, Gautam Dahale, Dev Limbachia, Malique Dale, Duah Opoku, Mahboob Zeb, Tayari Gechagua, Abubakar Maskat