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Prince Harry to lead push to expand rugby into inner-city schools

Source: The Guardian
Rugby Football Union aims to make most of boom around 2015 World Cup by getting 750 more state schools playing game.

By Owen Gibson, Chief Sports Correspondent, The Guardian

It takes its name from a famous private school and, for some, has long been associated with the Barbour-wearing, Range Rover-driving masses that throng Twickenham whenever England play.

As part of an effort to change that image the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has launched a new drive to get hundreds more state schools, many of them in inner cities, playing the game to make the most of a hoped-for boom in its profile around the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which will be staged in England.

Apparently without irony, the Old Etonian Prince Harry has been named as the patron for the All Schools scheme, with the aim of getting 400 more state schools playing the game by 2015 and 750 more playing by 2019.

Clusters of three or four schools will be targeted and provided with kit, equipment and resources by the RFU as well as being linked with a local club, which will also provide coaching and ongoing support.

Steve Grainger, RFU rugby development director, said the programme was aimed both at schools that used to play the game but had dropped the habit and those that had never taken it up, seeking to provide coaching education for teachers who had never played or taught the game.

"One of our aims up to 2015 and beyond is to broaden the reach of the game and ensure it is a game that can be played by everyone. It can have a real impact on a school not only from a sporting perspective, but from a behaviour perspective, a values perspective, a discipline perspective," he said.

The RFU estimates that of a total of just over 3,000 secondary schools, about half of them play some form of rugby and about 750 of those play competitive fixtures against other schools.

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Feature image from - Steve Parsons/PA Wire