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Prince Harry has congratulated England Rugby’s All Schools programme on achieving its target of 400 more state secondary schools playing rugby by the Rugby World Cup.
With Prince Harry as Patron, All Schools – set up in partnership with the Rugby Football Foundation – has ensured that hundreds more state secondary schools and thousands more pupils are now enjoying rugby in England. The 400 already involved at the start of this new school year will continue to expand, with the aim of extending the number to 750 by the time of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
In a video message, Prince Harry commented: “It’s no secret that I love top flight rugby, but I’m also a passionate supporter of how powerful the grassroots game is in helping to improve people’s lives: The values it teaches, the enjoyment it brings and the unity it creates.
"We have now reached the crucial milestone of 400 state secondary schools becoming rugby playing schools thanks to the programme. We are well on our way to helping one million students benefit from the game and its development opportunities.”
Linked to more than 140 community rugby clubs, over 60% of All Schools are running a mixed or girls’ programme, with 35% of all the players female. More than 130,000 students took part last season and many have joined a local rugby club and are playing regularly with them. More than 600 teachers were also trained as coaches and match officials.
Prince Harry added: “Thank you to all of you who have supported the programme. And congratulations to all the teachers, coaches, volunteers and above all the young people who are making the All Schools programme such a success.
“With the Rugby World Cup just around the corner, this really is a once in a generation opportunity to deliver the greatest legacy for the game.”
Crucially, Sheffield Hallam University research has shown that 65% of young people taking part in All Schools are more confident as a result. Confidence has also built with more than 2,000 students trained as ICAP Young Leaders.
RFU Chief Executive Ian Ritchie said: “2015 is an important and exciting year for rugby. We have a commitment to develop the game in England with All Schools a key element in us achieving that. To have reached our milestone of 400 more state secondary schools playing rugby by the Rugby World Cup is testament to all the hard work and commitment put in by so many across the country. It is great to see so many more people playing and engaging in rugby thanks to All Schools. We are determined to keep the momentum up as we expand the programme further over the next four years.”
Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said: "The lessons young people learn in rugby benefit them for the rest of their lives. We welcome the RFU’s All Schools programme which helps more state secondary schools give students from all backgrounds the opportunity to play rugby. This will ensure children fulfil their potential and achieve their high aspirations. In the year of England hosting the Rugby World Cup we are also investing in programmes to deliver coaching which will transform the lives of thousands of children.”
Employees from Principal Partner CBRE have been helping the RFU to deliver rugby at All Schools. This coming year more of their staff will be out coaching and refereeing games and encouraging more students to enjoy rugby.
Ciaran Bird, CBRE UK Managing Director said: “Taking part in sport not only has long-term health and well-being benefits but it also develops communication, teamwork and confidence. There is a great opportunity for business to play a role in encouraging more children, particularly girls, to engage in sport. This is why we are proud to be the principal partner of All Schools. To achieve this milestone is fantastic and we look forward to continuing our involvement with All Schools as we help England Rugby work towards its next target of an additional 350 schools in the programme.”
With thousands of young players new to the sport now playing in bespoke rugby shirts designed by pupils at special Canterbury workshops, inspiring players of the future is what All Schools is all about. Many of them would never have played rugby but for the success of this key legacy programme from England Rugby.
For more information visit www.englandrugby.com/allschools