Rugby World Cup fever has arrived in Coventry and dozens of young fans got to experience the buzz after competing to be part of Wasps Urban Rugby Squad.
Over 60 youngsters got the opportunity to show off their tag rugby skills at Wasps Urban Rugby Regional Festival on the pitch at the Ricoh Arena.
The boys and girls, all aged between 14 and 16, also got to tour the stadium and take part in workshops that focused on teaching the core values of the game, as well as personal areas including anger management, drugs and alcohol misuse, sexual health and physical fitness.
Urban Rugby Squad is a new ground-breaking initiative launched by Premiership Rugby and its 12 clubs to encourage thousands of young people from non-traditional rugby playing communities across the UK to participate in the sport and develop key life skills.
Fifteen youngsters will shortly be selected to represent Wasps as its Urban Rugby Squad and go head-to-head against other Urban Rugby Squads across the UK at a national finals festival at Richmond College and Twickenham Stoop in London on Monday, October 26.
Educational rugby initiative Engage! Coventry has been commissioned by Wasps to deliver its Premiership Rugby community programmes across the city.
Engage! held an initial recruitment drive to attract non-traditional young people to four satellite centres in the city including Coventry and North Warwickshire Cricket Club, Westwood Academy School, Foxford School and Centre AT7.
Tom Clift, programme manager of Engage!, said:
“Premiership Rugby’s Urban Rugby Squad is a fantastic initiative which really looks at enticing and including young people from non-traditional rugby playing communities who wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to play the game.
“Throughout the programme we have seen boys and girls from a range of backgrounds come together to take part in this great sport, and the personal workshops have also contributed to their personal development by covering issues such as self-esteem, healthy relationships, drugs and alcohol and sexual health.
“There is a real buzz in the city with England hosting the Rugby World Cup this year, so it is important that we take advantage of that and engage young people who are interested in the sport, enabling them to begin their pathway into rugby and be the best they can be.”
Matthew Bates, head of community at Wasps said:
“It’s been very encouraging to see the commitment of so many people new to the game over the past 12 weeks across the four satellite areas. All participants also showed terrific skill during the regional festival and perhaps more importantly, harnessed the key values of the game that they had learnt throughout the programme.
“All of those who took part in the festival will now be welcomed back to complete a further six weeks of training through the unique partnership Engage! Coventry have established with Old Coventrians RFC and the Warwickshire RFU development team.
“This is exactly the type of partnerships we want to create across the City and we are committed to building a long-lasting rugby legacy in Coventry where every child is given the opportunity to take part in the sport.”