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Masterclasses Coaching Programme launched

ESPN, lead broadcaster of Aviva Premiership Rugby, and each of the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs are delivering a series of coaching Masterclass events around the country.

Ahead of each Aviva Premiership Rugby match week, ESPN and Premiership Rugby will hold a Masterclass event with one of the clubs featured in ESPN's live televised matches each week.

Former England internationals and ESPN rugby analysts Austin Healey and Ben Kay, along with ESPN rugby presenters Mark Durden-Smith and Nick Mullins, will take part in the Masterclass programme, helping to coach, inform and inspire youth rugby players, as well as established coaches and club staff.

Across the season, the Masterclass programme will deliver two strands: coaching sessions for youth players at local schools, and, "coaching the coaches" masterclasses for local and grassroots club coaches and management. Youth coaching sessions will be offered to schools that are new to rugby and will each engage dozens of boys and girls aged 11 to 13 years. A series of skill stations manned by Premiership Rugby community coaches and players, plus one of ESPN's rugby team will deliver fun sessions focusing on introducing core skills and tips from top coaches.

Coach masterclasses for local and grassroots club coaches and management will focus on understanding and teaching core skills. The coach education sessions will involve a player or coach from the local Premiership Rugby club and one of ESPN's presenters - Ben Kay or Austin Healey - delivering a seminar focused on an individual skill within the game as well as a question and answer session.

Completing the Masterclass programme will be a special end of season session for a group of selected players from the youth coaching sessions throughout the season. Hosted at the end of the season, the event will provide the group from around the country with special coaching and Q+A session, plus a ticket to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final for themselves and a parent or guardian.

Jeroen Oerlemans, Vice President, TV Channels ESPN, EMEA said: "ESPN is delighted to be right in the thick of it with the core of English club rugby. After a successful first year of Aviva Premiership Rugby on ESPN, we will continue to look at innovative ways to enhance our connection to the rugby community."

Wayne Morris, Head of Community at Premiership Rugby, said: "The ESPN Premiership Rugby Masterclasses are a great opportunity for the rugby community to benefit from ESPN coming to town to broadcast live at one of our clubs. ESPN and the Premiership Rugby clubs are looking forward to working together to help develop youngsters' rugby skills at schools new to rugby as well as providing coaching sessions for the army of volunteer coaches who's dedicated work is key at grassroots clubs in helping develop the rugby players of the future."

The new Aviva Premiership Rugby season kicks off in September, with lead broadcaster ESPN offering the first of its 43 live and exclusive matches through the season - including one semi final and the final - weekly TV highlights, and classic Premiership Rugby games.

ESPN's comprehensive live televised coverage of the new season opens with the now traditional double-header at Twickenham on Saturday 3rd September as London Irish take on Harlequins at 2pm BST. ESPN's live televised Aviva Premiership Rugby matches will be broadcast on-site at all the grounds from a custom built set, with all pre and post match discussion being led by Mark Durden-Smith alongside analysts Austin Healey and Ben Kay, as well as a special guest from the world of rugby every week. Commentary will come from Nick Mullins together with Healey and Kay, the former England and Leicester second row. Sarra Elgan continues as ESPN's chief rugby reporter, bringing all the news and player interviews from pitchside.

Weekly Aviva Premiership Rugby Highlights also returns for the new season and on most weeks will air Monday evenings at 8:30pm.

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