- Prince Harry pledges support to RFU's All Schools programme
- Canterbury named as official partner for grassroots scheme
Prince Harry has become Patron of the Rugby Football Union's All Schools programme, with Canterbury also revealed as the inaugural official partner for its scheme to get more secondary state schools playing rugby union.
The RFU firmly believes that rugby union is a game for All Schools – all schools and all young people in a school can play, and rugby can have a positive impact on all of the school. Currently, around 1,500 state secondary schools play competitive rugby union. As Patron, Prince Harry will support the RFU in its ambition for 750 more to be self-sufficient rugby playing schools by the Rugby World Cup 2019, and to encourage new players to join local clubs.
This will be achieved by delivering a package of resources within the school, linked to the local club that helps it to start and sustain playing rugby union, including kit and equipment, as well as coaching and young leaders training.
Canterbury is the first partner to support All Schools, becoming official partner for the programme. As part of their involvement, each school taking part in the programme was given the opportunity to attend one of a number of Canterbury kit design workshops last year. The 100 participating state schools designed their own team rugby shirt, while learning about the core values of rugby, the pride associated with the shirt and the importance of colours, logos and emblems.
Canterbury has turned these drawings into final bespoke designs to be proudly worn by the school’s rugby team. The colourful jerseys produced for the schools will be presented for the first time at Twickenham; they can be seen during Sunday’s England v Italy match in the RBS 6 Nations as 100 children from across the UK will each be representing their school on the pitch before kick off and at half time.
Photo: RFU Archive
A St. James’s Palace spokesperson said: “This patronage will allow Prince Harry to combine his passion for rugby with his work to help children and young people in society to build their skills, confidence and aspirations. Prince Harry recognises that rugby can play an important role in helping to achieve this.”
Ian Ritchie, Chief Executive of the RFU, said: “We are delighted that Prince Harry and Canterbury have pledged their support for All Schools. It’s an extremely important initiative for the RFU, and is already having a significant impact up and down the country. We know that both Prince Harry and the team at Canterbury share our aims to encourage more young people to play rugby and I look forward to us growing the game together.”
Commenting on the announcement of Canterbury as Official Kit Partner, CEO Chris Stephenson, said: “The RFU’s All Schools is a fantastic programme which we are proud to support. The Canterbury kit design workshops present pupils with the unique opportunity to design their school kit, which they will later wear in action and with extra pride on the rugby pitch. The workshops offered a stimulating educational experience for those who may have little understanding of the traditional values of rugby and it was great to see the outcomes from all taking part.”
All Schools forms one of the seven areas identified by the RFU to deliver the greatest participation legacy for the game in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and beyond. Secondary state schools have been identified in small clusters, allowing them to play rugby against each other locally. The RFU plans to take a school that is new to or has only just started to play rugby union, and turn it into a self-sufficient rugby playing school by the end of the three years, providing a pipeline of players to the local rugby club.
A keen sportsman and rugby fan, Prince Harry is also Vice Patron of the RFU and Patron of the RFU Injured Players Foundation.