With two years until the Rugby World Cup 2015 final, a new initiative for young fans has launched.
The Rugby Football Union hosted an event at Kingston Park in Newcastle yesterday to unveil a plan for young rugby ambassadors.
Yesterday dozens of young rugby ambassadors from across the region gathered at the home of the Newcastle Falcons.
These included members of Percy Park RFC, Keswick RFC, Alnwick RUFC, Whitley Bay Rockcliff RUFC, Morpeth RFC, Carlisle RFC, Tynedale RFC, Stockton RFC, Richmondshire RFC, Wigton RFC, Ryton RFC, and Novocastrians RFC.
The nationwide plan is to develop more young volunteers in rugby clubs across the country through its ‘Young Rugby Ambassadors’ programme.
During the launch day, young rugby players took part in workshops discussing ideas for community projects to inspire people about rugby, explored different leadership and ambassadorial styles and shared information about RWC2015.
Councillor Gerald Bell, cabinet member for investment and development at Newcastle City Council, said: “The most important legacy of Rugby World Cup 2015 for Newcastle is to see a new generation of young people inspired to take up rugby and get more involved in sport reaping the social and health benefits and playing an active part in this great event.
“This is a great opportunity to build on the success of the Olympics, to recreate the festival atmosphere and to showcase our city to the world.”
The programme kicked off with regional briefing days held in the ten English Host Cities chosen to stage matches during RWC 2015.
Will Greenwood, RWC 2003 winner and England Rugby 2015 ambassador said: “I want Rugby World Cup 2015 to act as a catalyst to get more people finding out what their local rugby clubs can offer in terms of a community and a support base.
“A rugby club is a great place to be around all through the week.
“It can be a real anchor; not just in terms of health and fitness but also a social life and developing friendships.
“There is no better way to do this than to work with the young players in the clubs who are hugely passionate about the game.
“Two years out from the tournament, the Young Rugby Ambassador programme sets the foundations to get clubs fully involved in Rugby World Cup 2015 and it is so exciting to see such enthusiasm across the country.”
Rugby clubs across England are being asked to nominate 16 to 20-year-olds to become Young Rugby Ambassadors (YRAs), whose role will be to excite and inspire other young people in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup 2015
There will be up to four Young Rugby Ambassadors from each rugby club, along with adult mentors who will work with them to provide advice and guidance, ensuring that they receive the support they need. The next group of young volunteers will be recruited by May next year.