HARLEQUINS FOUNDATION AND PROJECT RUGBY

We are delighted to be part of England Rugby and Premiership Rugby Programme – Project Rugby. Project Rugby is designed to increase regular engagement with the game by individuals or communities who are traditionally under-represented within the sport, in particular:

· The Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic communities;

· Those from Lower Socio-Economic areas (top 30% MID); and

· Disabled People.

The programme will engage thousands of participants per year, aged 14+ and 16+ for disabled people, and will be delivered by community/foundation staff from Premiership Rugby’s 14 shareholder clubs at over 200 locations across England, providing accessible opportunities for people to participate in the game at a time and place that can be easily accessed by target audiences. In May this year, Project Rugby celebrated reaching its landmark 25,000th participant since its launch in 2017, at an inclusive showcase event at one of the Harlequins Foundation’s community rugby HUB’s at Grasshoppers RFC, Hounslow.

Over the past two seasons, the Foundation’s coaching team have introduced just over 2,000 new players to the game.

15-year old Seth spoke to Premiership Rugby on how the project has helped him overcome a traumatic childhood and gang involvement; “Project Rugby has made me the person I am today. Without it, I would be lost. I owe Project Rugby and the Harlequins Foundation so much for helping me through some really tough stages and making me happy again.”

The programme has been a fundamental part of the Foundation and below are a few of our success stories!

Harlequins Foundation talk Project Rugby ahead of Premiership Final on London Live:

In the build up to the Gallagher Premiership Final at Twickenham Stadium, Harlequins Foundation Participation Manager, Matthew Williams was on set to chat with London Live about the incredibly local impact that Project Rugby has had on the local community; “There are some community groups that simply can’t access their local rugby club on a Sunday morning. As part of the programme, we’ve been able to provide more accessibly opportunities for these young people and prove to them that there really is a place for everyone on the rugby field.”

Harlequins Foundation bring rugby to Hounslow:

Since the start of the year, Harlequins Foundation Coach James Collins-Clark, has worked been working closely with local state schools and rugby clubs to introduce over 500 typically disadvantaged young people to the sport for the first time. Both boys and girls aged 14-16 have had the opportunity to access a new sport, develop their teamwork and social skills as well as adopt the sport’s core values and behaviours as noted by Kingsley Academy PE lead Anita Fiddes Kapadia; “ James turned up with no preconceptions regarding the children at our school, he wanted as many of them to play and more importantly enjoy playing rugby. His passion for the sport and his personality made sure this happened!

Hounslow Rugby HUB helps over 90 local youngsters into Rugby.

On the 25th February 2019, the Harlequins Foundation launched a new Project Rugby HUB site in Hounslow based at Grasshoppers RFC. Working closely with local community rugby coaches, the Harlequins Foundation provided weekly Friday night inclusive rugby sessions for local young people as a way of introducing them to the sport and encouraging long term participation in the sport. Over 140 14-16 year olds had joined the coaches for at least one session, and just over 90 of these had decided to join the club and begin life as a rugby player.

“Project Rugby has been an overwhelming success since its launch,” said Wayne Morris, Community, Corporate Social Responsibility Director at Premiership Rugby. “The fact that we’re seeing so many new players take up rugby is fantastic and we’re taking huge strides in making the game more accessible, as well as engaging communities with no background or history with rugby.

“It’s about giving rugby union a try and once people change their perceptions that it isn’t a sport for them or overcome the trepidation they feel about stepping onto the pitch, they are converts and reap the full benefits of the game.”

As part of the programme’s key strategic aims, the Harlequins Foundation have also enabled schools to bring rugby into their core PE curriculum for the first time. Kingsley Academy, Hounslow had never fielded a school rugby team in their 118-year history until being approached by the Harlequins Foundation trough Project Rugby. After a few weeks of rugby sessions, their newly formed school team had 18 players signed up and they entered their first official festival at Grasshoppers RFC in February as part of the programme.

Wayne Morris added; “We are incredibly proud that Project Rugby is delivering tangible results. We want rugby to be a positive catalyst in these participants’ lives and our initial research has shown that new players are enjoying benefits to their wellbeing such as increased confidence and social connectedness.”

St Mary’s Catholic High School – played their first ever game of rugby in their schools 140-year history.

Our Harlequins Foundation coaches gave the school 6 – 10 weeks of free delivery where we upskill the students on their knowledge and core skills. Amazingly the students took to the sport with huge enthusiasm and because of this St Mary’s was invited to a Project Rugby tournament held at Streatham Croydon RFC by our Foundation.

The School came down to the tournament with lots of positive energy and played every school at the tournament and even came away with a great victory. We want to say a massive thank you to P.E. teacher Mr R. Gissing who really encouraged his students and got them out of school to play in the Project Rugby tournament. Also, we want to say a special congratulations to St Mary’s Catholic High Schools first ever rugby team.

The Harlequins Foundation help four Boroughs in the London Youth Games.

The London Youth Games aims to inspire and enable every young Londoner to find their best through sport. They provide opportunities for young Londoners to come together and challenge themselves to achieve more through competition programmes, volunteering or just trying sports and activities they have never done before. The London Youth Games main competition programme includes 30 different sports and 90 different disciplines.

This year, the London Youth Games girl’s rugby competition took place at Hackney Marshes and was attended by schools representing each London Borough at U13, U15 and U18 level. The Harlequins Foundation had supported and accompanied each of the following schools to represent their borough on the day;

U13’s Harris City Academy Crystal Palace (Croydon) – Project Rugby Tiffin Girls School (Kingston) – Switch

U15’s Harris City Academy Crystal Palace (Croydon) – Project Rugby Kingsley Academy (Hounslow) – Project Rugby Christ School (Richmond) – Project Rugby

For more information about The Foundation and Project Rugby please contact Matt Williams.