Working with the RFU to grow rugby in schools

Ten areas of the country are involved in the project across England, from the Tees Valley all the way to Devon.

The Youth Sport Trust are working in partnership with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to listen to the ideas and needs of young people with the aim of engaging more young people in rugby. Through working together with schools and their students on this Workforce Pilot, the RFU are creating a range of formats of rugby that are designed to be exciting and vibrant to all.

The Youth Sport Trust are taking the lead in recruiting workforce leads - local school sports professionals who know their communities - to collaborate with schools and rugby clubs in the area, to make them aware of the benefits of rugby as a sport and to ensure the offer is inspiring, meaningful and accessible to all their pupils.

Following a successful pilot of the programme back in 2023, there are now 10 areas of the country involved in the project, spanning the length of England from the Tees Valley all the way to Devon. Throughout 2024 the Youth Sport Trust will be working with nearly 200 schools and training over 250 teachers, with a total of 3740 young people taking part. What’s more, the project will engage more than 350 young people in rugby changemaker leadership roles.

By ensuring the programme is youth led, it enables the Youth Sport Trust to spot barriers to participation that teachers or coaches might not traditionally have seen or understood. In Telford & Wrekin for example, the facilities for girls in local clubs was highlighted and addressed, and in North Oxfordshire, young leaders facilitated touch rugby in the playground to create a simple pathway into playing rugby.

Chris Pemble is a Primary PE Teacher & Mentor and is also the North Oxfordshire RFU Workforce Pilot Lead. He said:

“The RFU pilot has had a positive impact on the delivery of rugby in the North Oxfordshire school sports partnership (NOSSP). Through increased staff confidence, delivery of the various formats has meant students get bespoke experiences that suit their needs and wants, and through our own young leaders training, we have seen more students regularly playing the Touch Union format of rugby at lunch and break times as a result. Teachers are happier and feel that their delivery is safe and in line with best practice.

"Feedback from students has been very positive and the vast majority valued the opportunity to try a new version of rugby and teachers have shared that it has changed the lives of some students at their school. Through the pilot, I have engaged local club members to help deliver, lead and attract new players to their clubs and this mutually beneficial approach means there is now a steady flow of new players and a clear pathway for players.”

The Youth Sport Trust are pleased to be working in partnership with the RFU to promote, sustain and grow both boys and girls rugby in schools and driving outreach both from and into community rugby clubs. We’re excited to see how this pilot progresses over the rest of 2024 and leading into 2025, which will see the Women's World Cup take place in England, bringing a whole new audience to the game.


Published on 9 February 2024