Premiership Rugby’s Project Rugby at Home sessions continue tomorrow, as Northampton Saints keep the show going with a question-and-answer session with England international Piers Francis.
With grassroots rugby on hold, and the number of young people taking part in regular physical activity dropping during lockdown, Project Rugby at Home is a new Premiership Rugby initiative run in conjunction with Gallagher, with online sessions hosted by each Premiership Rugby club.
The programme gives the next generation of rugby talent the chance to still be involved with their local rugby club despite the circumstances, as well as some of the stars of the English game, with a series of webinars from each of the Premiership Rugby sides scheduled for the coming weeks.
The aim of the project is to keep young children active and involved within their local community through their rugby club as Premiership Rugby’s community and corporate social responsibility director Wayne Morris elaborates.
“As professional rugby clubs we want to be at the heart of our local communities and a force for good during lockdown, and be part of the solution helping communities emerge from the end of COVID,” Morris said, ahead of the Northampton Saints session on Thursday evening.
“We are seeing a large number of children becoming disengaged from their grassroots clubs, not just from rugby but from sport as a whole, and not only does that stop them being physically active but it breaks down their social networks as well.
“What we want to do is utilise our professional players to re-engage with their club and their teammates, and inspire them with the sessions and activities to be passionate about their club and their sport.”Wayne Morris, Community and CSR Director at Premiership Rugby
The first of such programmes got underway last week, with Wasps star Jacob Umaga involved in a session with local rugby clubs in the community, as he put some of the budding youngsters through their virtual paces, as well as answering questions from those in attendance.
And this week it is the turn of Francis, who will be tuning into a Zoom session with a number of local rugby clubs including Old Northamptonians, Brackley and Long Buckby, alongside Saints’ community programmes manager Ben Lawrence, who will be question master for the event.
And if this session is anything like the first one, it is sure to be a fun-filled evening enjoyed by all, with Francis having to be on his toes to answer questions from some of his biggest fans.
“The current lockdown has had a big impact on a lot of people’s mental and physical health, for both young people and adults,” Northampton Saints head of community Connor Fleming explained.
“All these members of these clubs are so used to seeing each other week in, week out, and they’re doing a great job of keeping everyone connected where possible, so it’ll be great to talk about rugby and talk to a great player like Piers.
“The launch of the Project Rugby at Home programme is ground-breaking and helps develop what we are able to do in the current situation.”