From today pupils at schools in Gloucester have the chance to be ambassadors for Rugby World Cup 2015 following the launch of the School Rugby Ambassador programme.
England 2015 Ambassador, Will Greenwood and England Rugby player, Fran Matthews, joined pupils from Wilmslow High School in Manchester to promote the new initiative at a tag Rugby tournament, which was organised as part of National School Sport Week which runs from June 23 - 27.
The programme, which is being delivered in partnership with the Rugby Football Union and the Youth Sport Trust, encourages young people aged 14-18 to become School Rugby Ambassadors and organise activities that encourage their peers to play the game and build excitement for Rugby World Cup 2015.
Following an initial application process which was open to Youth Sport Trust Secondary Members, 14 schools were selected in or near Rugby World Cup 2015 Host Cities to encourage other schools to become involved and linking up with local primary schools, with the aim of them forming a network of School Rugby Ambassadors for that city.
With years of experience between them playing at the highest level of the game, both Will and Fran got stuck into the tag Rugby tournament and provided tips on skills and technique needed in the game.
They also led a rugby masterclass for a selection of pupils, focusing on how the core values of respect, enjoyment, discipline and teamwork are important in every aspect of the game, from playing and coaching to leading and officiating.
Chief Executive of England Rugby 2015, Debbie Jevans, said:
"Through this partnership with the RFU and Youth Sports Trust we are engaging young people in RWC 2015 and helping to spread the excitement around (insert city name) and the rest of the country as we head towards the Tournament. We want young people to play an important role in welcoming the world to this proud Rugby nation and this initiative will give an excellent opportunity for fans, players and visitors to interact with schools and the local community."
Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, John Steele, said:
"It is fantastic to launch the School Rugby Ambassador programme in our weeklong celebration of sport that is inspiring so many young people across the country. The energy and enthusiasm of the young leaders will help to drive excitement in schools about the Tournament and hopefully encourage thousands of young people to get involved with Rugby."
The partnership of the Rugby Football Union, England Rugby 2015 and Youth Sport Trust has also created an interactive, innovative resource website which aims to bring Rugby World Cup 2015 to life in schools throughout the country.
Designed by a group of teachers, the site is packed with resources and offers ideas and materials to incorporate rugby into a range of subjects as part of the build-up to next year's Rugby World Cup. The site is based around the RFU's five core values - Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship.
It offers creative ways in which teachers can apply each of those values in meaningful ways which will benefit their students across the curriculum. To view the site, log on to www.englandrugbyteachersresource.com
RFU Rugby Development Director, Steve Grainger, said:
"This is an exciting project to help us raise awareness of Rugby in schools and inspire more young people to play the game or be involved in the sport in other ways.
"Our aim is to help them feel part of the excitement that hosting RWC 2015 will bring to this country and to have a real connection to the sport in the build-up to the Tournament.
"This new website will give schools access to a whole range of educational materials and ideas which can bring the game to life in imaginative ways. We are proud of the values that our sport promotes and we hope this website will help teachers to encourage them in all areas of school life."
Throughout May, the RFU, supported by the Youth Sport Trust, delivered the second stage of Young Rugby Ambassador conferences that sought to recruit young people aged 16 to 20-years-old to promote Rugby World Cup 2015 within the English club network.
There are currently 909 Young Rugby Ambassadors and 441 mentors who also have the task of encouraging players to come back to the game as well as cultural engagement.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
The Gloucester Rugby Ticket office can advise that the club's initial allocation of tickets for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final has sold out. However, the club has secured an additional allocation of tickets from EPCR which will go on sale on Monday.
Following Saturday evening's exciting European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Exeter Chiefs, the Ticket Office at Kingsholm will be open on Sunday from 11am to 3pm for Club Members to purchase tickets for the Final.
Gloucester Rugby qualified for their first European final since 2006 as they defeated the in-form Exeter Chiefs by 30 points to 19 in a thrilling semi-final at Kingsholm on Saturday evening. The club photographer caught the best of the action.
Recent meetings between these two teams have often been thrillers, and this was no exception. It went down to the final few minutes, but Gloucester produced the goods when it mattered to qualify for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final, beating Exeter 30-19.