09 Jul 2020

Diversity in Rugby - "different backgrounds and races is really inspiring".

Foundation proving that rugby is a sport for all

With an impressive heritage to build on, the London Irish Foundation is focused on proving that rugby is a sport for all regardless of background.

London Irish is proud of its track record in identifying and producing world class players from BAME backgrounds.  International players like Topsy Ojo, Anthony Watson and Marland Yarde are products of the club’s Academy.

Current star winger Ben Loader, who is the latest to come through the club’s system, commenting about the current England team says, “Seeing an England team with so many different backgrounds and races is really inspiring and shows what’s possible if you have ambition and drive.”

Persuading the next generation of players from BAME communities that rugby is accessible to them is the objective of Premiership Rugby’s “Project Rugby” programme which aims to increase participation by those from BAME communities as well as those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and disabled people. It introduces young people to the sport, with every Premiership club running programmes in their area.  

The Foundation delivers the Project Rugby programme throughout its catchment area which includes Berkshire, Hampshire, and Middlesex.  Sessions which take place at schools and community clubs are delivered by trained coaches with the support of London Irish’s professional players including Foundation Ambassador Terrence Hepetema.

Andy Keast, the London Irish Foundation chief executive, talks about the initiative “breaking down a lot of barriers. Our players and ambassadors including Topsy, Terence and Emmanuel Smith, play a vital role in persuading the youngsters we encounter that anything is possible in rugby.”

The June issue of “Rugby World”, the leading international rugby magazine, contains a feature on diversity to which the foundation contributed.

Ben Loader, says, “Seeing an England team with so many different backgrounds and races is really inspiring and shows what’s possible if you have ambition and drive.”
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