Wasps Urban Rugby Squad inspired by the Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup fever has arrived in Coventry and dozens of young fans got to experience the buzz after competing to be part of Wasps Urban Rugby Squad.

Urban Rugby Squad is a new ground-breaking initiative launched by Premiership Rugby and its 12 clubs to encourage thousands of young people from non-traditional rugby playing communities across the UK to participate in the sport and develop key life skills.

Around 80 youngsters had the opportunity to show off their tag rugby skills at Wasps Urban Rugby Regional Festival, on the pitch at the Ricoh Arena.

The boys and girls, all aged between 14 and 16, were also given a tour of the stadium and took part in workshops that focused on teaching the core values of the game, as well as personal areas including anger management, drugs and alcohol misuse, sexual health and physical fitness. 

Fifteen youngsters will shortly be selected to represent Wasps as its Urban Rugby Squad and will go head-to-head against other Premiership Rugby clubs’ Urban Rugby Squads across the UK, at a national finals festival which will take place at Richmond College and the Twickenham Stoop in London on Monday, October 26.

Delivered by Engage! Coventry, an educational rugby initiative that has been commissioned by Wasps to deliver their Premiership Rugby community programmes across the City, a recruitment drive to attract young people from disadvantaged backgrounds has been delivered across four satellite centres over the past twelve weeks.

These included weekly rugby sessions at Coventry and North Warwickshire Cricket Club in Binley Road, Westwood Academy School in Mitchell Avenue, Foxford School in Grange Road and Centre AT7 in Bell Green Road.

Matthew Bates, Head of Community at Wasps said: “It’s been very encouraging to see the commitment of so many people new to the game over the past 12 weeks across the four satellite areas. All participants also showed terrific skill during the regional festival and perhaps more importantly, harnessed the key values of the game that they had learnt throughout the programme.

“All of those who took part in the festival will now be welcomed back to complete a further six weeks of training through the unique partnership Engage! Coventry have established with Old Coventrians RFC and the Warwickshire RFU development team. This is exactly the type of partnerships we want to create across the City and we are committed to building a long-lasting rugby legacy in Coventry where every child is given the opportunity to take part in the sport.”

Tom Clift, programme manager for Engage! said: “Premiership Rugby’s Urban Rugby Squad is a fantastic initiative which really looks at enticing and including young people from non-traditional rugby playing communities who wouldn't usually have the opportunity to play the game.

“Throughout the programme we have seen boys and girls from a range of backgrounds come together to take part in this great sport, and the personal workshops have also contributed to their personal development by covering issues such as self-esteem, healthy relationships, drugs and alcohol and sexual health.

“There is a real buzz in the city with England hosting the Rugby World Cup this year, so it is important that we take advantage of that and engage young people who are interested in the sport, enabling them to begin their pathway into rugby and be the best they can be”.

Urban Rugby Squad is held in partnership with BT Sport’s The Supporters Club, the broadcaster’s initiative that aims to build a better world through sport, and Restart Rugby, the official charity of The Rugby Players Association (RPA).

The Urban Rugby Squad programme will be run across all Premiership Rugby clubs during summer of 2015 and over the course of the programme it is estimated that 1,000 young people from non-traditional rugby communities will be introduced to the game.