Wasps and Premiership Rugby will today launch another exciting new community initiative, Project Rugby at Home, as we try to help young people stay engaged with sport during these testing times.
With rugby facilities closed across the country at the moment, it can be hard to get your sporting fix, but Project Rugby at Home is a new Premiership Rugby initiative run in conjunction with Gallagher, with online sessions hosted by each Premiership Rugby club, starting with Wasps.
Recent Sport England data shows that the number of young people taking part in sport and physical activity for an average of 60 minutes or more a day dropped to 44.9% during the 2019-20 academic year, with the national lockdown seeing grassroots sport being postponed.
But with Project Rugby at Home, young rugby fanatics still get the chance to be involved with their local rugby club, as well as some of the sport’s elite names, with a series of webinars from each of the Gallagher Premiership Rugby sides scheduled for the coming weeks.
The first of the sessions will be tonight (Wednesday evening) and hosted by Wasps. Club star Jacob Umaga (above) joins the club’s Head of Community Ian Isham and Senior Development Community Officer Jordan Young in a question-and-answer session with three local clubs via Zoom, as well as putting the budding young talents through their paces over the internet.
Trinity Guild RFC, Old Leamingtonians RFC and Aston Old Edwardians RFC will all be involved in the inaugural event, which looks to help young people reconnect with their local club and teammates, as well as tackling mental health problems.
“Since the first lockdown it’s been a challenge, as it has been for every Premiership club to engage with our community and we’re trying to adapt to working remotely and doing sessions virtually,” Isham explained.
“Not only is it key for us to stay engaged with everybody but it’s great for these individuals to be involved with rugby when they can't access their local clubs as normal.
“Hopefully by facilitating these collective calls, we are helping to bring together multiple clubs, not just an individual club, and it can help clubs to connect across a region.
“Seeing people enjoying the sessions we put on, progressing and developing as they take part is the main reason that people get involved in community rugby, and doing things virtually in lockdown doesn’t change that.
“You still get to see the excitement as they get to speak to a professional player like Jacob, or when they finally master that new skill via Zoom, that’s what it’s all about.”
Project Rugby at Home is the second initiative launched by Premiership Rugby in recent times following the very successful Learn With Us project that has delivered lessons for primary school children via our YouTube platform.
Premiership Rugby's community and corporate social responsibility director Wayne Morris believes the new project can keep the link between grassroots clubs and their local professional sides intact, as well as providing children with the opportunity to improve their mental and physical health.
“Professional rugby union clubs are hubs of their local communities and have a role to be a force for good during lockdown,” Morris said.
“It’s crucial that Premiership Rugby and our clubs are part of the solution to the problems of lockdown and the recovery ahead - we have a duty to play our part and we take that very seriously, which is why we have launched Project Rugby at Home.
“Latest lockdown closures of sports facilities during the Coronavirus pandemic leaves kids without access to their clubs and rugby and has significantly reduced physical activity levels, leaving people feeling disconnected, anxious and becoming unhealthy. The impact of closing grassroots sports had a major impact on mental and physical health.
“Project Rugby At Home will help young people reconnect with their grassroots club and teammates, staying active and engaged in sport is one essential way we can help mitigate the damage being done to a generation of young people during these challenging times."