Maggie Alphonsi, former England Women’s player, Women’s Rugby World Cup Winner and TV personality has been announced as the official ambassador for the Spirit of Rugby.
Click here to view a video message from Maggie.
Spirit of Rugby is a nationwide RFU project aimed at increasing participation in rugby across England through creating new and innovative events and sessions to engage groups not traditionally involved in rugby. Funded by Spirit of 2012, the project was set up to ensure the spirit that radiated from London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics is felt across the UK. Spread over two years and 15 communities, Spirit of Rugby is devised, led by and targeted at 16-24 year olds.
Maggie’s first role as Spirit of Rugby Ambassador was to meet a group of volunteers during work experience at the home of England Rugby, Twickenham Stadium.
The work experience was aimed at giving volunteers looking towards a career in rugby a greater understanding of what the RFU does as an organisation. As part of the three day programme, Maggie Alphonsi spoke of the importance of volunteering in continuing the Rugby World Cup and Paralympics legacy and her commitment to championing grassroots rugby.
Maggie said “I am thrilled to be the Spirit of Rugby Ambassador for England Rugby; it’s such an amazing project that will have a real impact on the lives and development of young people and the game. The volunteers I have met so far are all outstanding and show that if you give young people opportunities they can achieve great things.”
The Spirit of Rugby communities include Rugby World Cup Host Cities, Team Bases and Communities isolated from any direct impact of Rugby World Cup 2015. To ensure projects are successful locally, the RFU works closely with local organisations such as community groups, County Sports Partnerships, Universities and Rugby Clubs to support the volunteers with their projects.
Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director said “We are already seeing some fantastic results from across the projects. Highlights so far include a regular touch rugby session bringing 50 new players to the game in football-mad Portsmouth leading to a new generation of qualified coaches and referees and Brighton volunteers using the Spirit of Rugby to break down barriers and common misconceptions associated with disability sport.”
With 2016 Rio Olympics fast approaching, which will see rugby introduced for the first time, and the World Rugby U20 Championship taking place in Manchester this coming June, rugby fever is spreading and the Spirit of Rugby projects are hoping to capitalise on this exposure.
Rebecca Tweedy, a Spirit of Rugby volunteer in Brighton, attended the work experience sessions at Twickenham: “This was a great experience, giving me lots of helpful tips and advice on how to grow my project which I’m already starting to put into action. Since the sessions I have set up a new Facebook page for the event which, by the first evening, already received 85 likes and engaged with 177 people showing the power of social media. I have also set up a team email address so we can contact organisations and companies to help us promote mixed ability and disability rugby.”
Linda Grant from Spirit of 2012, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the RFU to deliver Spirit of Rugby. Spirit of 2012 funds projects across the UK that help people become more active and increase the wellbeing of individuals and communities – and those are exactly the kinds of opportunities this programme is providing. It’s especially great to see the young people really driving the programme forward in their own areas.”
You can find more information on Spirit of Rugby and upcoming projects and events across the country here.
Header photo shows Maggie with the Saracens team after winning the Premiership title in 2015.
Report courtesy of England Rugby.