Youngsters set to inspire the nation
With two years to go to the Rugby World Cup 2015 Final, the Rugby Football Union is sending a clear signal that young people have a massively important role to play in the build-up to and legacy from one of the world’s largest sporting events.
The RFU on Thursday unveiled plans to develop more young volunteers in rugby clubs across the country through its Young Rugby Ambassadors (YRA) programme, which aims to raise the profile of rugby across England and inspire other young people in the build-up to RWC 2015 and beyond.
The Young Rugby Ambassadors will be working in their clubs to share the latest tournament news from RWC 2015, raise awareness of rugby in their local area and help to get 16-24 year olds from their community playing the Game.
To mark two years to go to the final of RWC 2015, the Youth Rugby Ambassador programme kicked off with regional briefing days held in the 10 English host cities chosen to stage matches during the tournament.
The briefing days involved hundreds of young volunteers and mentors from rugby clubs nationwide. The YRAs took part in workshops to discuss ideas for community projects to inspire people about rugby, explored different leadership and ambassadorial styles and shared information about RWC 2015.
One of the launches was even attended by Rugby World Cup 2003 winner and England Rugby 2015 Ambassador Will Greenwood, who joined in the launch in Birmingham.
Inspiring future generations
At the heart of Greenwood’s involvement with RWC 2015 and the YRA programme is a strong desire to grow the Game in England and use it to create positive social change.
As a “grass-roots man through and through” he believes that rugby is a sport that can help provide many of the tools that youngsters need to ensure a good start in life. The former England centre has seen for himself the value that rugby can add to a youngster’s development.
“I’ve seen close-up what rugby can teach you – camaraderie, discipline, leadership, personal responsibility and fun. They are all part of the magical mix and the best part of all is that you don't have to be at the top of the game to be able to enjoy it,” said Greenwood.
“I’ll always think of rugby as a great family sport; little ones running around using up their energy and developing their hand-eye co-ordination, learning how to work as a team, getting fit and healthy, mums and dads doing the coaching then making burgers in the clubhouse – it really is a fantastic way to spend the weekend and has given me some of my fondest memories. Now it’s my turn to be the parent on the sidelines – my nine-year old is playing minis rugby this afternoon.”
“I want RWC 2015 to act as a catalyst to get more people finding out what their local rugby clubs can offer in terms of a community and a support base. A rugby club is a great place to be around all through the week. It can be a real anchor not just in terms of health and fitness but also a social life and developing friendships.”
Greenwood also hopes that England’s current crop of stars will act as an inspiration to youngsters in the country.
“In the same way that the likes of Johnson, Wilkinson and Dallaglio became heroes for a generation after RWC 2003, I want to see the likes of Corbisiero, Tuilagi and Farrell light up RWC 2015 and give kids across the country a new set of heroes that they are inspired by and want to emulate.
“Start small, aim big, make massive changes. The grassroots is where it all begins.”