- Animated English Bulldog Ruckley to help children give rugby a try
- “His boundless energy will rub off on children taking up rugby” – Corbisiero
The RFU has announced one of the most unusual appointments in its history, unleashing animated and excitable English Bulldog Ruckley as the official ambassador for children's rugby.
Ruckley, who was presented at a press conference at Twickenham Stadium in front of a crowd of 5-11 year-old children and media, received a warm welcome from England Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree and England prop Alex Corbisiero.
Talking about Ruckley’s appointment, Rowntree said: “We’re delighted to welcome Ruckley to the England set up. He’s got an infectious personality and he’s already become everyone’s best friend. We’re certain he will help lots of children fall in love with the game.”
As well as helping make the sport more engaging and easier to understand for our young fans, Ruckley’s first job will be to help explain and promote Kids First Rugby , the RFU’s new approach to the way mini rugby is played.
Gary Townsend, RFU Player Development Manager, shaped the scheme and explained how the sport is broken down into bite-sized chunks for kids to understand.
“Our Kids First approach aims to enhance the rugby experience for young players, coaches and parents to help keep more players in the game,” he said
“The focus is on the child and giving them a bite-sized, manageable programme so players of all abilities can develop at their own pace. Kids First Rugby also manages the transition through the introduction of contact, which we believe is a vital factor in retaining young players into the future.”
The new rules for playing rugby under the Kids First approach is now mandatory at all clubs in England at Under 7, Under 8 and Under 9 level after being successfully trialled in Durham, Hampshire and Warwickshire over the last three years. The new approach is based upon research by Exeter University which the RFU commissioned in 2007 to identify how to improve the skills levels of young players and to help retain them into the adult game.
Corbisiero, who brought Ruckley into the press conference, added: “We’re sure his boundless energy will rub off on all those children thinking of taking up rugby.”
Children will be able to keep up-to-date with Ruckley’s adventures and watch his first video at www.rfu.com/ruckley, where there is also more information about the Kids First approach to rugby.