AT Billingham Rugby Club, a legacy is being created to ensure that next year’s Rugby World Cup can have a lasting impact on the development of the game.
The Young Rugby Ambassadors Programme is a national initiative ran by the Rugby Football Union to engage the talents of young people in the build-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and to promote rugby within the local communities.
The Teesside club jumped at the chance to take part in the scheme, and, as Sean Scott (Head Coach of Billingham U16’s) says, it was a “great opportunity” for the club.
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“Billingham saw it as a great opportunity to establish role models within the club, develop the personal and life skills of the lads and to make the club a better place by giving young people the power to organise things which they want to do,” Scott said.
Among the players at Billingham is 16 year-old Jonathan Heal, who along with Alex Moriarty, Lewis Roxby, Will Scott and Tommy Singh, make up the team of Young Rugby Ambassadors.
They helped to organize an Under-16s Rugby Sevens tournament at Billingham last weekend, hoping to promote the game and raise money to fund future projects.
And Heal feels that the tournament was a success, helping to spread awareness of the scheme and raise the profile of Billingham Rugby Club.
“We had ten teams from five different clubs (Billingham, Darlington Mowden Park, Morpeth, Percy Park and Sunderland) one school (High Tunstall from Hartlepool) and one invitational Barbarians side, which was put together by one of the Young Rugby Ambassadors,” Heal said.
“The teams that took part in the tournament are now more aware of the scheme following their participation, as well as all the spectators who attended the event and helped make it a success.”
The programme has already been beneficial to the ambassadors, who in preparation of the tournament, attended a conference ran by the RFU. The intention was to inform them of what the scheme was all about.
Will Scott said: “I would like to say it has given me a great boost in confidence and an experience in meeting new people.”
Tommy Singh added that the event “widened my knowledge of rugby and the skills I have learnt can be applied to the rest of my life.”
And now, the Young Rugby Ambassadors are looking to the future, with a vision that aims to get more people involved in rugby.
“The events which we are hoping to hold in the future are based around the concepts of the Young Rugby Ambassadors programme. These are: to raise the profile of the 2015 Rugby World Cup (which is being held in England); to get more people involved in rugby, this is not just playing the game, but volunteering, refereeing, coaching etc; to raise the profile of Billingham Rugby Club and the work that goes on in the club,” Heal continued.
And Heal will be hoping that any future projects between now and next year’s World Cup will be just a success as last weekend; bringing together the community on a sporting level and looking to improve rugby in the region.
“The reaction to the scheme has been amazing, everybody who came along to the tournament was impressed with what we had managed to organise,” said Heal. “They all went away knowing more about the programme and what Billingham Rugby Club is about.”
“The club motto 'Our Spirit is Our Strength' shone through in the whole organisation of the tournament, and senior members of the club congratulated us on a fantastic achievement.”
“It is also important that we get as many people involved with the Rugby World Cup, creating a long lasting legacy in the area, similar to that of the recent Olympic Games. The program is not just about improving Billingham, it is about improving Rugby in the whole of the North East.”