For some, however, there’s a perception that rugby is not a sport for them but now more than 15,000 young people have been reached through Project Rugby; a joint initiative between Premiership Rugby and England Rugby, which also involves local and national partners.

Project Rugby is encouraging young people to get involved in rugby and to join their local rugby club. It
is specifically designed to introduce black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as disabled people to the game of rugby through community departments at Premiership Rugby clubs.

The programme has been making headway at over 600 sites across England, with the initial focus on easy to play formats of the game at easy to reach locations. And, in only its second year, Project Rugby has seenover 1,000 young people make the transition into one of over 107 RFU affiliated community clubs. That’s a significant number of young people joining the grassroots game and a positive step in increasing the diversity at an amateur level.

Bob Hayes, Streatham & Croydon RFC’s Vice President, said: “We’re a community club but with our
demographic it’s very hard to recruit from areas that have not traditionally played rugby. Project Rugby is one of the best things that has happened to this club in many years.”

Wayne Morris, Director of Community & CSR at Premiership Rugby, said: “We are helping to make
rugby a game for everybody, providing opportunities to get into the game and changing perceptions which, through programmes like Project Rugby, we hope will become outdated. We’re taking the game to new places and new audiences and making access as easy as possible. We want to open up the game to everyone and ensure that rugby is a game for all, regardless of background, circumstance or physical ability.”

Building on its successful first year, the ambition is to further increase participation, continue to challenge the traditional perception of rugby and to encourage even more young people to join their local grassroots rugby clubs. Around 17,000 are expected to take part each season.

Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director said: “Offering opportunities for underrepresented groups to play the sport is a key goal for the RFU. We want to take the game into communities where rugby isn’t widely available and demonstrate not only how much  fun the game is but the skills and benefits it brings a player – confidence, teamwork, resilience, and wellbeing to name a few.

“The number of people trying the sport through Project Rugby is testament to the strength and success of the programme and the RFU is particularly pleased that so many young people are joining local clubs and continuing to play rugby.”

Find more about Project Rugby at ProjectRugby.co.uk