Courtney Lawes says that having healthy and growing local clubs is vital in helping to bring on the next generation of English rugby players.
The England lock was speaking at the launch of the Aviva Community Fund, a nationwide initiative that lends a helping hand to local communities by offering support and funding for inspirational local causes, clubs and projects. It has already benefited over 320,000 people, through 431 winning projects across the UK, and this year, local grassroots sports clubs can apply or reapply for funding in a new, sport-specific category.
Lawes himself says he has fond memories of the start of his rugby journey.
“I came through at Northampton Old Scouts. A guy called Chris Parr coached me, all the way through colts and then he got the Saints guys to come down and take a look at me, so it went from there,” he said.
“If you want good rugby players to come through, you have to invest a pile of money in grassroots rugby because that’s basically where everyone starts. That’s where you learn the game and get into the sport.
“I think it’s crucial to rugby in this country that our local teams, our grassroots teams, have got what they need to be able to bring through good players.
“And not just good players, any player that decides to go and pick up a rugby ball.”
For Lawes, first up is the bread and butter of game time with Saints and he says they are working hard on turning the tables on the disappointments of last season.
“We’ve got a lot to work on. Last year was not our best season, we had a lot of things we needed to tidy up,” he said.
“We’re still going through that process but we’re getting there and hopefully it will start to click again over the next few weeks and we’ll be able to finish in that top four and have a crack at that Aviva Premiership title.
“It was very important for us and the fans to get into the top European competition. We want to play the best in the world and take them on and see where we’re at.
“We’re always the same, we’re hungry and we want to win trophies. That’s always our motivation.”
Premiership Rugby and the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs are supporting the Aviva Community Fund, a nationwide initiative which offers funding of up to £25,000 to grassroots sports clubs and other community organisations close to your heart. Enter at aviva.co.uk/community-fund.