A new generation of rugby stars were born at Warriors’ Sixways Stadium on Wednesday, as over 150 youngsters experienced one of Premiership Rugby’s best grounds at the National Urban Rugby Squad Festival.
Northampton Saints were the victors, but representatives from every Premiership club and Championship side London Irish – boys and girls from diverse backgrounds, many of who had never played rugby before – turned out in a fine day's action at Sixways.
The Urban Rugby Squad is a ground-breaking initiative run by Premiership Rugby and its clubs, helping 1,000 young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England.
In its first year, the scheme helped 778 young people and delivered 136 personal development workshops on topics such as anger management and sexual health.
There were some lightning-fast feet, brilliant handling and fantastic teamwork on display as each side gave their all.
Though there could be only one winner, what pleased Premiership Rugby's Inclusion and Equalities Executive Tim Mathias most was the pride every side took in pulling on their club's jersey.
“The pitch is fantastic, it looks glorious and it is brilliant to see how proud these young people are in their Premiership Rugby shirts,” Mathias explained.
“We are really, really happy to have 13 teams here – I think it is a first for us getting so many teams together to compete and we get to use this fantastic facility.”
And Mathias admitted that it was a real delight to see such a broad span of people clearly enjoying their rugby and relishing the unbelievable opportunity to play at Sixways.
He said: “We want to get as many people playing rugby that have never played before and I think the best way to do that is through our clubs and inviting kids to our stadiums, our games and getting them to pull on the shirt and be proud of where they come from.”
Saints were exceptional all day, showing superb spirit and teamwork to defeat Wasps two tries to one in the final, meaning their Social Inclusion Officer Jordan Letts was an incredibly happy man.
“They have improved so much, some of them have gone from barely even passing the ball to playing at Sixways Stadium,” the 23-year-old said.
“To see them win is brilliant, it will boost their confidence no end. Everyone has had a smile on their face and rugby’s core values have been on display all day.”
For more information about Premiership Rugby’s Urban Rugby Squad, run in partnership with BT Sport’s The Supporters Club, the broadcaster’s initiative that aims to build a better world through sport, and Restart Rugby, the Official Charity of The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA), please visit http://www.premiershiprugby.com/urban-rugby-squad/ and the join the conversation #RugbyChangingLives