Source: Matt Impey for the RFU

The Mayor invests in grassroots rugby

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Boris_mimpey_002 Matt Impey for the RFU

Boris takes off with the ball! (Photo: Matt Impey for RFU)

With Rugby World Cup 2015 due to kick-off at Twickenham later today, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced that he is partnering with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and investing £100,000 from his Sports Legacy Programme to boost grassroots participation in the sport.

To mark London’s role in the competition, the Mayor’s investment will support the RFU’s All Schools programme which will see more secondary state schools playing rugby.

The investment also aims specifically to encourage more women, girls, disabled people and those from ethnic minority communities to try out the sport.

The Mayor announced the new funding today, as he joined England great Jason Leonard and pupils from Haverstock School in Camden for a rugby training session. The Mayor and pupils were also given the chance to see at close quarters the Webb Ellis Cup, the Trophy awarded to the winner of rugby’s most prestigious competition.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘I have absolutely no doubt that Rugby World Cup 2015 will be the best rugby tournament ever, with London playing centre stage in an epic gladiatorial battle witnessed by billions of people around the world. We want this stellar sporting event to inspire more people to get active and I am delighted to be joining forces with the RFU so that thousands of Londoners can learn how to scrum, ruck and maul.’

The Mayor’s funding has been allocated to the following schemes:

  • £50,000 towards the RFU’s All Schools programme. Supported by principal partner CBRE, All Schools aims to increase the number of secondary state schools playing rugby union. It it currently working with 750 schools and aims to engage with one million children. The Mayor’s funding will be targeted at five London schools that cater for pupils with special educational needs. These schools will be linked to existing All Schools clusters across the capital to provide a support network and competitive opportunities.
  • FreeSport grants to 14 rugby clubs (totalling approx. £20,000). The Mayor’s FreeSport programme, in association with Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives, was set up to encourage more Londoners to try out sport. Sports clubs, organisations, youth groups and community groups can apply for grants of up to £1,500 to run free activities for Londoners, of all ages and abilities, to encourage more people to try sports. So far 75,000 Londoners have taken part in over 1,500 FreeSport projects. The focus of the FreeSport funding announced today will be to get more Londoners trying out rugby.
  • Funding will also be used to work with an additional 14 clubs across London to help them to build their capacity to recruit and retain more young people and adults. The focus of this funding will be to engage with women, girls, disabled people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

RFU President Jason Leonard said: ‘2015 is a fantastic year for rugby. This investment from the mayor will have a significant impact on All Schools and help us take rugby to even more schools across the capital. We want to give as many young people as possible the chance to enjoy all the game has to offer. I’ve been to a number of these schools and seen how All Schools helps to make school life happier and healthier by reducing anti-social behaviour, encouraging learning and improving students’ confidence and their self-esteem.’

Rugby World Cup 2015 is just one of many major sporting events to have been held in the capital since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Over the coming years, London is also scheduled to host the European Aquatics Championships 2016; the Track Cycling World Championships 2016; the 2017 IAAF and IPC World Athletics Championships; the Women’s Hockey World Cup 2018; the Cricket World Cup in 2019; and the final of the 2020 European Football Championships.

The Mayor is investing £25m in grassroots sports projects to support London’s promise of an Olympic legacy, creating hundreds of thousands of opportunities for Londoners to get into sport across every London borough. This programme has already benefitted more than 400,000 Londoners with more than 100 sports facilities funded.

Report courtesy of the RFU