Welcome to the 2008-9 Rugby Season!

Hi, I’m Wayne Morris, Community Manager for Premier Rugby.  As our new season kicks off, I’d like to take the chance to give you an overview of the community work that’s coming up…

Our goal is to put community investment at the heart of the work we do as a professional sport.  Our Chief Executive Mark McCafferty gives us an overview of the community season ahead in this recent interview:

(To learn more about the sports season itself, listen to Mark’s interview on that subject here.)

We know that by engaging with local communities we cannot just help encourage kids to play rugby, but we can also make a contribution to dealing with other social problems.

Rugby is a great sport and a great way to encourage people to stay active but we think our brands, our players and our facilities can go beyond just addressing physical activity. Our programmes also set out to tackle social issues like health, social inclusion, education, and anti-bullying.

If you’d like to know more about our community policies, partnerships and programmes, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Below is an update on some of our most recent community projects:

Positive Futures

We’ve been working this summer on a few new areas, one of which has been a social inclusion pilot project with Positive Futures in London. To find out more about it, visit our Positive Futures blog post here and listen to a series of interviews with London Active Communities CEO Gary Stannett and others who participated or helped deliver the scheme.

EDF Energy Schools Programme

I am also delighted that we’re starting a new season of the world’s largest rugby-based community programme – the EDF Energy National Schools Rugby Programme, a national programme that has exposed thousands of 8-10 year olds to tag rugby. All twelve clubs in the Guinness Premiership participate; last fall the EDF Energy programme celebrated reaching 500 schools and we hope to reach 112,000 children by July 2009. (The government recognised the achievements of the programme last year when the National Sports Foundation awarded it a grant of almost £200,000.)

Wooden Spoon and the NSPCC

We have also got some interesting new programmes coming with the Wooden Spoon and the NSPCC. But more of that shortly…

Positive Futures Rugby Pilot Programme

Positive Futures is a national social inclusion programme that’s funded by the Home Office. If you’re interested to know more about why the Home Office supports this scheme and in particular the role of sport in it, listen to Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker here:

Coaker also had this to say about the programme:

“We know that playing sports like rugby can boost young people’s confidence and self-esteem which in turn helps to make them resilient to the kind of peer pressure that can sometimes lead to drugs, crime and anti-social behaviour. I welcome the contribution that London’s professional rugby clubs are making in bringing sports to deprived neighbourhoods in inner cities and offering young people an alternative.”

PRL clubs Irish, Harlequins and Saracens worked closely with Positive Futures and charity London Active Communities to deliver an eight week programme to 280 boys and girls.

Photo courtesy of Sabera Bham

© Sabera Bham 2008

The programme taught touch rugby skills and also offered drug education, leadership and personal development pathways for participants through workshops and within coaching sessions.

(c) Sabera Kham 2008

© Sabera Bham 2008

Listen here an overview from Gary Stannett, CEO London Active Communities, on the pilot programme:

Listen here to comments from Helen Clayton, Operations Manager Sport Action Zone, on how the pilot was received by participants:

Listen here to some of the responses from coaches and players involved in the summer project:

New Land Rover Premiership Cup

This one’s quite exciting. Last week Guinness Premiership sponsors Land Rover launched the Land Rover Premiership Cup, a new tournament that each of our clubs will run that will reach 40,000 girls and boys over the next four years. It kicks off in October–you’ll certainly be hearing more about it on his blog. For now, check out the full news release here.