The Youth Engagement Programme for Rugby World Cup 2015 has been hailed a huge success, providing thousands of young people with opportunities to engage in the world's third largest sporting event.
Launched in November 2013, the Rugby Youth Partnership brought together the Youth Sport Trust, Rugby Football Union and Tournament Organisers, England Rugby 2015 to organise a host of programmes, activities and resources designed to engage school children across the country with Rugby World Cup 2015.
On the eve of the final of Rugby World Cup 2015, the programme has seen thousands of schools and teachers engage in the bespoke Rugby World Cup 2015 teachers' website, designed by teachers through the Youth Sport Trust, with over 1,800 registrations and 9,000 website page views.
In the run up to the event, over 800 young people from 20 schools were involved in performing at Welcome Ceremonies for each of the 20 teams which kick-started the Tournament in September. For videos and photos please click here.
After performing at Australia's Welcome Ceremony, Angela Blackwell, Music Director at The Maynard School Exeter , said: "On behalf of The Maynard School can I please say the most enormous thank you for the once in a lifetime experience that you have given my pupils. They were deeply honoured to have been chosen to represent the UK. They were still absolutely buzzing about it all upon their return to school and the whole school has been behind the project. I know that 'legacy' is a key part of such an event and I can assure you that rugby has a large number of new fans and supporters!"
Managing Director of England Rugby 2015, Steve Brown, said: "Rugby World Cup 2015 has been a great success with millions of people around the country joining in the excitement. Our Youth Partnership has been a great way for young people from schools and clubs to get involved whilst also learning about the Tournament. I hope their experience will encourage them to stay involved with Rugby and help leave a legacy for Rugby World Cup 2015."
RFU Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger said: "It's superb to see Rugby World Cup 2015 having such a positive effect on grassroots Rugby. The Youth Sport Trust has been an excellent delivery partner and we hope that the dedication and hard work being shown by young people has inspired their peers to follow in their footsteps."
Up to 300 schools were part of the School Rugby Ambassadors Programme which, led by the Youth Sport Trust, gave secondary school students the chance to use their leadership and communication skills to inform and excite peers about Rugby and Rugby World Cup 2015.
Steve Broderick, PE Teacher at Oasis Academy Wintringham, explained the benefit for the whole school of being involved in the School Rugby Ambassadors Programme, saying:
"The girls asked for Rugby to be taught to girls - so all Key Stage 3 girls' classes were taught Rugby for the first time. The girls loved the game and many asked for extra lessons, next year we will enter our fist girls' competitions. Maths used Rugby figures as a starter for lessons - we had the countdown clock on the school plasmas."
Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver said: "It's been fantastic to see so many young people getting on board in the run up to and during such a huge event for the country. The power of major events to inspire young people and help schools engage them in learning is huge, and it's great to see so many schools taking advantage of that.
"The passion and commitment being showed by the School Rugby Ambassadors is truly admirable."
The RFU has worked with selected Rugby clubs to recruit four Young Rugby Ambassadors, aged 16-20, to help get their community involved with Rugby World Cup 2015 via their local Rugby clubs. Now 1,350 Young Rugby Ambassadors are active in 324 clubs.
Young Rugby Ambassador David Lote said: "The YRA Programme has provided me with unlimited opportunities within the game outside of playing, I have been able to meet some great people along the way and it has got me into my dream job working in sport."
For more information on the Rugby World Cup 2015 Youth Engagement Programme, click here.