Spirit of Rugby is a nationwide project spread across two years and 15 communities with a focus on 16-24 year-olds. This project is funded by Spirit of 2012 - an independent funding body, established by the Big Lottery Fund and endowed with £47million of National Lottery Funding.
They were originally set up to continue, and build on, the inspiring impact of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. Increasing participation in Rugby Union is a core goal of the RFU, the Spirit of Rugby is looking to increase involvement in rugby union in a variety of ways, ranging from playing to promotion of the game in hard to reach groups. This will be achieved by projects being devised and led by 16-24 year olds for peopel of their own age in their local community. The groups will create new and innovative solutions to engage groups who aren’t traditionally interested in rugby and seeks to use the inspiration of both the Rugby World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Maggie Alphonsi, former England Women’s player, World Cup Winner and TV personality is the official ambassador for the Spirit of Rugby project.
Being part of a highly successful England Squad, winning both the Six Nations and the World Cup, she has seen first-hand how major events can have a positive effect on grass-roots participation. Her first act as the Spirit of Rugby Ambassador was to meet a group of volunteers during work experience at Twickenham Stadium.
The project is funded by The Spirit of 2012 Trust, a fund that was initially created to distribute the funds from the sale of the Olympic Village, with the purpose to keep the spirit of London 2012 alive through community legacy programmes within sport, art, culture, education and volunteering. A key purpose of the Spirit of Rugby project is to engage with 16-24 years who want to play a more active role in their communities and provide opportunities for their peers in their area.
The Spirit of Rugby project is based within 15 communities across the country. To ensure the projects are successful locally we are working closely with local organisations such as: community groups, County Sports Partnerships, Universities and local rugby clubs to support the volunteers with their projects.
The 15 project locations and brief description of their individual work are outlined below:
Under the group name Touch 4 Life the volunteers aim to increase opportunities for their peers through small grant opportunities and a social media campaign #SaveDave to raise awareness of rugby in a football focused area.
Bringing rugby and all the opportunities it provides to a socially deprived urban area of Bristol, aiming to tackle anti-social behaviour and increasing social cohesion.
Focusing on raising awareness of disability sport specifically wheelchair and mixed ability rugby within the Brighton area through events and taster sessions.
‘TriSpirit’- Introducing Tag Rugby to the Air Cadets throughout Lancashire and Cumbria. The volunteers will do this through the creation of a Cadet specific rugby publication, kit drops and coaching training for their cadets.
Spirit of Rugby volunteers are targeting women and girls with new free fitness focused rugby sessions called GlamRugby, housed within a free pop up gym. The sessions provide a route into fitness and sport for young people in the area who currently might not have access to facilities or appropriate teams.
Spirit of Rugby is looking to provide four major events in the city to coincide with major rugby events. The first event will be a ‘City Takeover’ in early April to capitalise on the interest generated from the Six Nations.
The ‘Scrum Down Scrub Up’ project is looking to break down misconceptions that you have to be ‘manly’ to play rugby, providing introductory rugby sessions in combination with beauty therapies from the local nail bar.
The Spirit of Rugby volunteers are working with the local rugby club network to provide a voucher system for new players to the game to get a first taste of rugby in a welcoming club environment after taster days and create local links between the college, uni and clubs.
Spirit of Rugby volunteers are running a series of beach rugby events to bring rugby to isolated communities on the coast.
The Spirit of Rugby ‘Pass it On’ project is split into four strands: Playing, Coaching, Volunteering, Spectating. The group aims to get young people engaged in rugby, ranging from paid coaching qualifications to incentives including trips to Premiership games.
Luton have a two pronged approach to their Spirit of Rugby activity. The first is focused on increasing rugby participation in the South Asian university community at the University of Bedfordshire Luton campus through touch rugby, while also working with local colleges and 6th forms to introduce rugby to 16-18 year olds, with the aim of reducing anti-social behaviour.
Split into two strands, the Spirit of Rugby volunteers are working with university students and Manchester’s Village Spartans, a local LGBT and inclusive rugby club. Whilst the students aim to increase engagement in rugby, the Spartans hope to recruit new players to their club and the sport as a whole.
Spirit of Rugby’s ‘Engage.Try.Convert’ project hopes to engage the large Eastern European community in the local area. To do this they have created a social media campaign, website and promotional video. All of which is translatable into six different languages and helps to promote the current playing offer in the area.
The Spirit of Rugby’s ‘RugbyFit’ project looks to emphasise the fitness aspects of rugby by delivering rugby based fitness classes and O2 Touch across the Norfolk area. The group hope to remove barriers to entry including fear of injury or extensive time commitments.
The Spirit of Rugby volunteers in the area are running weekly sessions at Bransbury Park to introduce rugby to the football focused area, with events taking place every quarter to ensure continued engagement. The group are also hoping to develop as coaches and referees and are working to set up a number of disability sessions within the community.
The groups will seek to use the inspiration of both Rugby World Cup 2015 and the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics to increase participation in rugby.
Want to get involved or have any questions on Spirit of Rugby?
Get in touch with the Spirit of Rugby Project Coordinators, as below: