Young people from one of the country’s most deprived areas have been inspired by Rugby League World Cup 2013 to play Rugby League for the first time by using Rugby Pop-Up Clubs specially-designed by the charity StreetGames.
Children aged between 11 and 17 from Cross Heath near Newcastle took to Rugby League when the sport was introduced to their community sports sessions, and since RLWC2013 the scheme has grown to allow children to borrow the equipment needed to play Rugby League, on the proviso that they return everything intact at their following community sports session.
The charity StreetGames, which was launched in 2007, provides opportunities across a variety of sports to those living in disadvantaged areas and worked in unison with the RFL during RLWC2013 to provide tickets to the quarter-final clash between Fiji and Samoa.
“Throughout the build-up and during the Rugby League World Cup, StreetGames worked closely with the RFL to develop a programme of Rugby Pop-Up Clubs run in parallel with the tournament,” said StreetGames Director of Sports Partnerships, Julia Lee.
“This allowed young people from disadvantaged areas to play rugby – sometimes for the first time – and learn what the game was all about. The association with the RFL also enabled them to attend some of the live fixtures. The response from young people involved has been phenomenal.”
As a result of their exposure to RLWC2013, and the consequent growth of the scheme to allow children play Rugby League in their spare time, as well as at their community sports sessions, there has been a big rise participation, with some youngsters also joining their local Rugby League sides.
“The fact that the World Cup was held in the UK has been fundamental to engaging with these hard-to-reach young people and hopefully providing the sport with a lasting legacy,” said Lee.
“The coaches and managers of the projects have not only witnessed an influx of interest in playing the game at their sessions, but are signposting young people to their local RFL community clubs.”
For more information about how to get involved in playing, coaching or watching Rugby League, please visit www.extraordinaryrugby.com.