WRU kick starts the HSBC rugby festivals in Llanelli
25 February 2009 16:11pm
The WRU and HSBC today kicked off a new junior rugby programme . As Principal Partner and shirt sponsor of this summer's British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa, HSBC has joined forces with the WRU to host a series of one day rugby festivals for youngsters across Wales.
The HSBC Rugby Festivals is the world's largest schools rugby programme and is being carried out across all four home unions. Today in Llanelli, thirteen schools from across the Scarlets region took part in Wales' first festival at Coleg Sir Gar, Llanelli.
Over the coming months, there will be another 20 festivals involving 105 schools and 2,300 12-14 year old children across all five Welsh rugby regions - Blues, Dragons, Ospreys, Scarlets and North Wales.
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said, "The Welsh Rugby Union sees the development of the community game as a priority and we are delighted to be able to assist with this initiative.
"One of our main goals is to increase participation levels in the game and projects like these give young people fantastic life experiences which will no doubt inspire some of them to strive to achieve their potential in sport and in life."
Speaking on the HSBC Rugby Festivals, Giles Morgan, Group Head of Sponsorship at HSBC Holdings said, "I am delighted that all four nations are currently running a full youth rugby programme as part of HSBC's sponsorship of the British Lions.
"This is the first time that a rugby programme has been run concurrently across all four home nations and today alone there are festivals being staged in Scotland (Glasgow) and England (Leeds) as well as in Wales, with hundreds of children benefiting from professional coaching.
"By the time the first ball is kicked on the Lions Tour in May, over 60,000 children and 3,000 coaches and teachers will have been involved in the HSBC Rugby Festivals. Youth, community and education are at the forefront of HSBC's Lions sponsorship and everyone is extremely proud of the programme that is being delivered in partnership with each of the home unions."
In addition to activity in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, HSBC is working to forge cultural links with schools in South Africa. Ten schools across the region will be selected as HSBC 'hub' schools meaning that they will responsible for collecting unused rugby kit to be delivered to South Africa during the Lions Tour.
HSBC has joined forces with IRB SOS Kit Aid to organise a series of kit donations to emerging rugby schools.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.