Northampton Saints’ community coaching team have landed back on British soil following a jam-packed year of delivering rugby camps across the globe.
The Club broke records on home turf back in October, with more than 400 players attending half-term camps across eight different sites (including cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton Casuals, Brackley, Ipswich, Woodbridge, Oundle School, Ely, and Long Buckby).
But there was no time for rest there as overseas camps in Gibraltar, Spain and Chile followed – the former saw around 50 players enjoy a three-day camp at Europa Stadium, with Saints and Gibraltar Rugby Union striking up a new relationship with the ambition to return in future.
Meanwhile the Prince of Wales Country Club, in Santiago, was the venue for Saints’ second and third Chilean camps in October and December (following an initial camp in February), both of which involved 60 local players aged eight to 18.
Ben Lawrence, Saints’ Community Programmes Manager, was on deck in Chile for both camps and believes the School of Rugby project has been a triumph so far.
“People travelled from all over Chile to attend these four and five-day camps in the capital city, Santiago,” he said.
“It’s fantastic to get the opportunity to take our camps international again. The School of Rugby programme is excellent; it provides the platform for us to help develop coaches, and also show Chilean players the Northampton Saints way of coaching.
“It’s amazing to see so many kids involved now, and to have so many people asking us about the sport as we were walking around town in our kit. More and more of our camp participants are turning up in Saints kit, which is extraordinary to see, so far from home.
“We have a great community presence obviously locally, in Northampton and the surrounding areas, but we’re trying to grow that across the globe through these programmes and have also done camps in Spain and Gibraltar this year.
“We’re tapping into the younger generation, and their passion for the sport and our brand, which we want to share. It’s been a real success.”Ben Lawrence, Saints’ Community Programmes Manager
The School of Rugby project has seen Saints partner with Sudamerica Coaching, Chile Rugby and project sponsor Latam Inversiones, travelling to South America as the project’s delivery partner – supporting the growth and development of rugby within Chile.
Chile have just qualified for their first Rugby World Cup, and with the sport rapidly expanding across the country, Lawrence is hoping for more of the same in 2023.
He added: “Chile have had international success this year, qualifying for the Rugby World Cup in 2023 in England’s pool, which is incredible for a developing nation and we’re delighted to have played a very small part in that and grateful for the opportunity.
“Football is still top of the radar in Chile when it comes to sport – the FIFA World Cup was on while we were out there – but throughout the country, people are trying to grow the game of rugby.
“We’re due to deliver camps in Spain and Italy early in 2023, so we’re excited to keep building next year!”