THE RUGBY FOOTBALL UNION (RFU) today announced its participation legacy plans with exactly three years to go until the Rugby World Cup final 2015.
Chief Executive Ian Ritchie, alongside Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger, and England’s most capped player, Jason Leonard, outlined seven areas of focus for the RFU in the lead up to 2015 and beyond.
From building capacity by improving facilities and increasing the quantity and quality of coaches, to getting more school children playing rugby or inspiring participation by encouraging players to return to the game, the plans are well underway.
1. Facilities – Committed an additional investment of £10m to create £25m worth of improvements in club equipment and facilities benefiting over 500 clubs nationwide – from kit and equipment to club houses, changing rooms and floodlights to all weather pitches.
2. People – New investment of over £1m to deliver more than 6,500 newly qualified referees and coaches. Staging master classes for over 5,000 existing coaches and referees along with a focus on young people bringing in 5,000 additional club volunteers.
3. Schools – Launched the All Schools programme to ensure more schools are offering rugby and give over 1m young people opportunities to play. The initiative aims to introduce the game into 400 non-rugby playing secondary schools by 2015 and up to 750 by 2019, by delivering a package of resources within the school.
4. Returning players – Working with colleges, universities and employers to inspire thousands of 16-24 year old players back into clubs across England.
5. Touch rugby – Ambition to encourage 15,000 new players to take up rugby by broadening the reach and appeal of the game through more access to touch. Over 200 club and 100 university based O2 Touch Centres will be set up by 2015, offering a range of pitch up and play activity, organised Leagues and events.
6. Other nations – Building links between the RFU’s Constituent Bodies and over 15 of Europe’s key developing rugby nations to share knowledge on how best to grow and develop the game.
7. Cultural engagement – Developing a series of cultural programmes using art and photography to bring alive what Rugby means to local communities, encouraging people across the country to talk about Rugby.
Ian Ritchie, Chief Executive, RFU said: “With three years to go until the culmination of one of the greatest sporting events taking place on home ground, we are putting in place the infrastructure and investment now to ensure that we deliver the greatest participation legacy for the game. This truly is a once in a generation opportunity to showcase and grow our game and one that we plan to make the most of.”
Responding to the announcement, The Rt Hon Hugh Robertson MP, Minister for Sport commented: “I am delighted to see the RFU is using the RWC 2015 to inspire new players, grow the game and build on the success of London 2012. It is the one of the largest sporting events in the world, so it is extremely encouraging to see plans already in place with three years to go. As part of these plans, the All Schools programme is an excellent initiative, ensuring that more young people across the country have the opportunity to play rugby in secondary schools.”
Jason Leonard, who played in England’s 2003 World Cup winning side, said: “There’s nothing like a World Cup to inspire a nation and hosting the event gives us the perfect chance to demonstrate that rugby is a game for everyone. It’s exciting to see plans to build participation already in place, so clubs will be ready and waiting to welcome the influx of new players.”