Yesterday evening at Twickenham Stadium, the Rugby Football Union launched a ground-breaking project in partnership with the International Rugby Board (IRB), FIRA-AER and UK Sport that will involve them working with seventeen European nations to grow the game of rugby ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015.
Called the “Unity Project”, this work forms part of the legacy plans being implemented by the RFU and falls under the wider work of the IRB’s RWC 2015 rugby legacy programme, 'IMPACT beyond 2015.'
The IRB and FIRA-AER selected the seventeen countries for the RFU and its Constituent Bodies (CBs) to work with over the next three years, with the project formally due to finish in June 2016. In order to deliver the project, each of the countries taking part is twinned with two CBs, with non-geographical CBs lending support across the board. The European nations and their allocated CBs will work together to devise and deliver development plans to support the growth of the game. This support could come in the form of helping to train grounds staff and facilities managers, through to working on grassroots coach and player development pathways.
The launch event hosted by RFU Chairman Bill Beaumont was attended by representatives of the IRB, Rugby World Cup Ltd, FIRA-AER, UK Sport, the nations and CBs involved in the project, as well as stakeholders from other sporting bodies and government.
Talking about the RFU’s involvement, Bill Beaumont said: “We are honoured and excited to be working with these seventeen countries on such an interesting and exciting project.
“Through the Unity Project we hope to work with the countries to capitalise on opportunities presented by Rugby World Cup 2015 to build a lasting legacy for rugby across Europe.”
Commenting on their involvement in the project, IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: "IMPACT Beyond 2015 is the most comprehensive and far reaching programme for a Rugby World Cup.
“We are excited to be collaborating with the RFU, FIRA-AER and UK Sport on the Unity Project, a programme that will drive significant playing, administration and development benefits for seventeen European Rugby Unions.
"Rugby World Cup is the financial engine for the global development of the Game and this project underscores our mission of welcoming and sustaining more men, women and children to play and support Rugby worldwide."
Octavian Morariu, FIRA-AER President said: “With interest in rugby constantly growing across Europe, the Unity Project will be highly instrumental in helping us to develop the game event more”.
Rod Carr, Chair of UK Sport, added: “UK Sport is proud to have helped deliver London 2012’s ‘Singapore Vision’ to use the Games to reach young people around the world and inspire them to choose sport.
“It is fantastic to be able to transfer the knowledge and experience gained from International Inspiration to support the delivery of the Unity Project, which will inspire increased community participation in rugby across Europe, building a lasting international legacy for another major sporting event taking place in the UK.”