Rooting for rugby: Grassroots rugby gaining from World Cup legacy plan despite England’s poor performance

Grassroots rugby is on the up despite England’s disastrous exit from the World Cup last year.

Unlike the 2012 Olympic legacy programme, which appears to have struggled over the cross-section of sports, the Rugby Football Union has insisted that community rugby is meeting the targets set out in the World Cup legacy plan.

The aim set for the 2019 World Cup was that 750 non-rugby playing secondary schools nationally would be introduced to rugby union, at the end of last year they were well on their way with 400 schools now offering the sport.

There are many successful aspects of the dissolution programme from the World Cup, including medical equipment that was used during the tournament being distributed to grassroots rugby clubs in and around south west London.

Group chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union Martyn Phillips said: “Delivering eight high-quality spectator events as part of a record-breaking Rugby World Cup is something we’re incredibly proud of at the WRU.

“This strong profile for rugby is something we continue to work on to ensure we get more people, and new people, involved in the game.

“The recycling initiative for rugby clubs is a great example of a legacy project which aims to reward the support of community clubs with access to the best facilities.”

An Ernst and Young report on the economic impact of the World Cup suggests that through the investment of up to £1million in newly qualified coaches and referees the levels of participation in rugby at all ages will increase.

The ‘Keep Your Boots On’ campaign launched to recruit more coaches and match officials from retiring players has been a resounding success according to the RFU.

Steve Grainger, Rugby Football Union’s development director said: “We’ve had two refereeing courses in the south-west and they weren’t filling up.

“The guys went straight to that database of the 2,000 who said they were interested from ‘Keep Your Boots On’ and all three courses are now full.”

With two of England’s Six Nations games being played at Twickenham, it is hoped that the interest in rugby at all levels will continue to increase.

Image courtesy of Dave Griffiths, with thanks

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