Attention may be focussed on England’s premature exit from World Cup 2015, but for RFU development director Steve Grainger the introduction of rugby into previously non-playing schools demonstrates the lasting legacy of the tournament.
Hemel Hempstead’s Astley Cooper School is one of 400 state secondary schools that have joined a programme called ‘All Schools’, supported by CBRE, that has introduced rugby as to its pupils as part of the RFU legacy plan.
While the RFU plans to widen the scheme even further to 750 non-playing rugby schools by the time the 2019 tournament kicks off in Japan.
The tournament is due to smash records in terms of attendance and also revenues generated from ticket sales – which will be reinvested in the sport - but it’s ensuring Rugby World Cup 2015 has a lasting effect on England’s grassroots game and most-importantly schools that dominates Grainger’s thoughts.
“Our aim is also to give as many young people as possible the chance to enjoy all the game has to offer and our All Schools programme is a key element in achieving that,” said Grainger.
“We made a commitment to take rugby into 750 non-rugby playing state secondary schools by 2019, and we have already reached our milestone of 400 schools by the start of this World Cup.
“To have achieved this really is testament to all the hard work and commitment put in by so many across the country. We are determined to keep the momentum going as we expand the programme further over the next four years.
“It is clear to see there have already been significant benefits to hosting the tournament.
“The support for the England team has been incredible, but it is the off-the-scale interest in all the team’s competing and rugby generally that has been so exciting from a legacy perspective.”
Grainger has also been instrumental in launching a strategy back in October 2012 that encompasses everything from pitch improvements to assisting with social spaces in rugby clubs with over £25m of RFU funding committed to-date to creating a legacy – taking advantage of the huge interest in the tournament.
There are now more schools playing rugby across the UK, more coaches in rugby clubs and the RFU has also been improving the facilities at grassroots level.
The RFU has trained 2,015 new level two coaches via the QBE Coaching Club; trained and brought on board 1,200 young rugby ambassadors – these are 16-20 year-olds that are now playing an active role in their clubs and have launched a campaign called ‘Keep Your Boots On’.
“We want rugby clubs to remain an integral part of their local communities and improving their facilities and pitches is one way of achieving that aim,” added Grainger.
“Over four years we’ve invested £10m in helping more than 520 clubs with projects to improve their facilities and this year we’ve helped them to improve their social spaces to encourage greater community use and to help attract new members.”