Services for young people - Education Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by the Rugby Football Union

The Education Committee has announced an inquiry into the provision of services beyond the school/college day for young people, primarily those aged 13-25.

1.  The RFU believes in the power of sport to change lives. All evidence suggests that participating in rugby union and sport in general, produces happier, healthier and more socially cohesive individuals. We see sport as both an end in itself and as a means to nurture better citizens and build a stronger society. Rugby in particular is an excellent vehicle to engage young people and the RFU, through its 1,900 clubs, delivers a provision that transcends localities across the country. Rugby union provides opportunities for young people of all shapes and sizes. The difference this makes to body image and all round confidence is staggering and we have strong evidence suggesting that playing rugby improves attitudes and behaviours across ages and socio-economic backgrounds as well as improving academic attainment.

The data below shows that rugby makes the greatest difference in the most deprived schools:

Rugby Playing Index: GCSE Results:
1No Rugby% of pupils achieving 5+A*-C (and equivalent) including
2Curriculum time only English and maths GCSEs
3Curriculum time and attend a festival
47 weeks and some competitive fixtures
514 weeks and weekly competitive fixtures




Schools data from Department of Education, rugby playing data from RFU field staff. RFU research - November 2010 - Miranda Kauffman, Sally Pettipher, Mark Saltmarsh


2.  The RFU provides a universal provision to young people beyond the school/college day through our 1,900 clubs based in communities nationwide. The wide geographical range of our clubs means that they are accessible to all and provide a true service to young people living in the area. Clubs act to reinforce the physical and social attitudes learnt at school by engaging this sector of the population in meaningful exercise under structured supervision. We aim to complement the school and college curriculum by, for example, extending the amount of physical exercise offered within the school day and developing young citizens through rugby's core values. The core values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship have been placed at the centre of the game as we aim to grow the sport and ensure a quality experience. The RFU has recognised the value rugby can bring to young people and has hence developed targeted programmes to retain people between the ages of 16-24.

3.  We have also recently developed the rugby union "All Schools Plan" that aims to create better citizens and forge school - club links in order to develop a universal provision of rugby in every school and community. Recent research demonstrates a clear correlation between playing rugby and GCSE results, with the impact being greatest in the most deprived schools. Case studies indicate that playing rugby is fun, driving attendance and teaches aggression control, discipline and respect, improving behaviour on and beyond the pitch.

4.  The universal provision of clubs in the community is supported by the RFU's 250 field staff and well over 40,000 volunteers. This huge resource is there is be utilised and the RFU could deliver many more programmes with matched Government funding.


5.  The RFU currently delivers universal and targeted services for young people at no cost to the Government and we have the capacity to do more. We run a whole of host programmes, many in partnership, aimed at particular groups including young offenders, young people in inner city areas, young people with obesity and those with special needs.


6.  HITZ uses the power of rugby union to improve the health, attitude, behaviour, education and prospects of some of the most disengaged young people in the heart of inner city London. It reduces crime and anti-social behaviour and improves the lives and environment of people across the capital. HITZ is a rugby union programme, developed in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police who have since seen a marked decrease in crime rates in the targeted areas. HITZ started on the ground in six of the toughest London Boroughs in January 2010. It costs £300,000 and will reach 7,000 young people aged 11-19 every year.

7.  Rugby has an inherent respect and discipline agenda which fosters personal responsibility and a physicality that requires aggression control on the pitch. Both help prevent violence off the pitch. HITZ delivers formal training leading to qualifications, offers voluntary and paid employment to trained participants, and directs players through to established rugby clubs in order to sustain the benefits of regular team sport and non-criminal activity in the long term.


8.  Rugby union is an ideal vehicle to engage with those young people who have been excluded or are on the margins of society, whether through poverty, lack of education, or through offending. The RFU, often in collaboration with other partners, reaches hundreds of disadvantaged young people each year working in prisons and with Pupil Referral Units.

9.  We have had 17 prisoners registered with prison2pitch since its inception less than 12 months ago. Some of the prisoners have been released and are now affiliated to clubs, while others are awaiting release. We are currently looking at a project in West Yorkshire where offenders do their voluntary work in clubs as part of their community payback.

10.  We are working in several prisons using local or RFU funding but are currently attempting to get a large grant to deliver a national programme which will build on the Try4Life pilot programme of 2009. Try4Life delivered with 12 youth offending projects and in 12 youth offending prisons. Two prisons have new 15-a-side teams that now play in local leagues (all home games). One prison even releases prisoners out to play in their local rugby union team on Saturday afternoons.

11.  We also run smaller projects working with 384 young offenders and with 750 young people aged 14-16 who have been excluded from school and currently attend Pupil Referral Units—the FairPlay programme. The eight week non-residential programmes of rugby and education in groups of 12-20 help with social interaction, anger management, commitment to activity, attention span and physical health.

12.  These schemes are an addition to the probation service and give young offenders non criminal associates as well as access to networks that will support them in employment and further education.


13.  MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do It!) is a social enterprise dedicated to reducing levels of overweight and obese young people. They help children and their families become fitter, healthier and happier by offering free healthy living programmes in the local community. We plan to roll out several projects in rugby clubs across the country in the coming year.

How services for young people can meet the Government's priorities for volunteering, including the role of National Citizen Service

14.  Sports volunteers make up a large proportion of the volunteer workforce in the UK. Our volunteering strategy and outcomes are extensive and we have currently have a trained volunteer force of 48,139 adults and 2,423 young people who support field staff and clubs in developing and delivering coaching and community engagement programmes. One of our main programmes with young people is the v Rugby scheme that aims to create new opportunities for young people aged 16-25 to volunteer in rugby union. Teams of young volunteers take part in short-term "bite size projects" that give them the opportunity to get involved at their local rugby clubs using one of four themes;

—  vRugby Fun - plan, organise and deliver a fun rugby event that will encourage others to take part in physical exercise eg girls "world cup" in Yorkshire.

—  vRugby Cash - raise money for a project of your choice to benefit your rugby club eg fundraising events for local charities in Ponteland, Tyne and Wear.

—  vRugby Life - use rugby's ethos to run a session to educate young people about healthy lifestyles eg healthy living training in Canterbury.

—  vRugby Force - make an improvement to your club facilities so that they can be better used by the local community eg repainting community facilities and litter picking days in Telford.

15.  vRugby aimed to create 3,744 new volunteer opportunties from 2008-11 for young people aged 16-25 of which 41% were 16-17. Previous research showed that sport ranks as the top passion of young people. By using a "bite size project" approach vRugby harnessed the existing passion, energy and enthusiasm of young people for their sport to deliver projects with tangible benefits for their local community. vRugby recruits from communities rather than clubs, gathering a broad social mix.

16.  The RFU, in conjunction with the Rugby Football Foundation, are currently developing contingency plans, post Comprehensive Spending Review, in order to continue the vRugby scheme. We are currently unsure whether the programme will continue to receive funding from v.

17.  The National Citizens Service (NCS) and vRugby are both targeted at a crucial age in the "sports cycle". The age bracket of 16-24 year olds is well known to be the "post drop school off" where young people move location or become disengaged from sport without a structured, accessible environment like school and college. The rugby club network can help curb this drop off and ensure that young people are re-engaged whatever their location. We have rugby Pathfinders, as part of the volunteer network, that ensure that young people are enveloped back into the game. We welcome and mentor over 20,000 boys and girls per year between establishments to ease the transition from school to college or for school leavers into community clubs.

Which young people access services, what they want from those services and their role in shaping provision

18.  Rugby union is heavily promoted as a sport for all. Through our clubs and targeted programmes we engage with young people of all ages, sexes, shapes and sizes. Rugby clubs welcome anyone from whatever background and our principles are embedded in the Core Values of the game. The RFU is extremely conscious of delivering a service that suits the participant's needs and we have therefore built up a range of alternative formats and variations to the full contact game to attract a wider pool of participants; tag, touch and conditioned formats, sevens and 10-a-side competitions.

19.  We also place a definite emphasis on involving young people in shaping provision. In season 2009-10 the RFU created the National Youth Council. Its purpose is to provide a group forum for listening to youth opinion and incorporating youth rugby enthusiasts ideas and suggestions into the decision making process. They are part of the Community Game Board work programme. We are currently developing the National Youth Council at a regional level.

The relative roles of the voluntary, community, statutory and private sectors in providing services for young people

20.  The RFU represents an organisation that transcends each of the sectors outlined above. Rugby union is embedded in the community sector through our clubs which provide local diversity and flexibility in providing a service to their participants. We represent the statutory sector as we are the national governing body of rugby union and therefore have a responsibility to deliver a quality service. As well as the central funding we receive, via both exchequer and lottery sources, we also represent the private sector operating as a commercial business. In summary, the RFU is a major funder of community provision matching funds from voluntary and statutory sources through our charity, the Rugby Football Foundation.

The training and workforce needs of the sector

21.  Sport as a sector is particularly dependent on the workforce behind it. The RFU have 250 field based staff and 40,000 volunteers to support the delivery of rugby across the country. The proposed All Schools Plan (summary attached at the end of this document) will be working with teachers to train and upskill this sector of the workforce in order to leave these skills behind. We work extremely hard to ensure that our workforce; coaches, referees and volunteers are given sufficient training and guidance.

The impact of public sector spending cuts on funding and commissioning of services, including how available resources can best be maximised, and whether payment by results is desirable and achievable

22.  Sport, like every other sector of society, must accept the recent spending cuts outlined in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). We do have some concerns around the effect the cuts will have on the school sport partnerships and also the volunteering strategy. However, we also see this impact as a potential opportunity for the RFU to deliver rugby and associated strengthening and conditioning programmes through our club structures. We have the capacity and resources in place. We believe that this is an opportunity for the education sector to commission services from the RFU directly in order to maximise resources and use existing capacity. There is a chance to really link up the education sector and clubs/RFU staff. Payment by results is essential for accountability but the results must be realistic and a true reflection of the work achieved.

How local government structures and statutory frameworks impact on service provision

23.  We recognise that local government structures and statutory frameworks are currently in a state of transition. We will be working regionally to ensure that the sport and leisure sectors are supported and that any economic burdens on our clubs are managed effectively. We would like local government to recognise the need to open up school facilities after school hours. This would provide an excellent provision for sport and rugby clubs to use after the school/college day maximising existing facilities. We would like to see Headteachers encouraged to make links with the clubs in the surrounding area to encourage out of school participation and create a clear pathway to sport outside the school day. Teachers should also be made aware of the targeted programmes provided such as HITZ.

24.  We also see possibilities around asset transfer as local authorities are looking to transfer their assets post CSR. Rugby clubs, with experience of managing playing fields could have a large part to play in facility provision at a local level. This would thereby reduce the asset and management burdens to local authorities and increase the opportunity for sporting provision to young people outside the school/college day.

How the value and effectiveness of services should be assessed

25.  Our services to rugby are assessed both externally and internally. We are centrally accountable to Sport England for the exchequer and lottery funding we receive. Numerous reports are produced to strict timescales to monitor areas where funding money is being utilised. These reports show varying degrees of detail dependent on the requirement and the recipient. As a national governing body we have the responsibility to deliver and every community provision must be held accountable for the money they spend and the associated outcomes. Our targeted services have their own key performance indicators (KPI) based on areas such as crime prevention statistics, academic attainment and health improvement measures.

Aim: To create better citizens of our teenagers for their own advancement and for the benefit of society.
Method:By introducing rugby union into all secondary schools in England as a vehicle for competitive sport and wider curriculum delivery, forging strong links with local rugby clubs for to sustain benefits beyond the school day and encouraging positive action in the community beyond the school gates.
Rationale:Recent research proves that, even when controlling for affluence/deprivation, young people in rugby playing schools achieve better exam results and have an improved attendance and discipline record than in non-rugby playing schools. Case studies give us a clear indication that playing rugby makes a positive difference to the attitude and behaviour of teenagers out of school too. Both lead to improved employment prospects and active engagement within the community. Rugby creates better citizens.
Location:National with targeting of inner cities and areas of rural deprivation.
Numbers:1,600 schools across England, reaching 2 million young people aged 13-18.
Timing:A four year plan leading up to the Rugby World Cup to be held in England in 2015.


1.  THE RFU has 250 employed field staff and thousands of volunteer coaches but this is insufficient to support delivery on this scale. We will expand our workforce by recruiting young people from deprived backgrounds for whom such a role will provide a career start and injured servicemen who will benefit therapeutically and provide role models to young people.

2.  The project's aim is to create better citizens. It will do this through activities that foster positive behaviour in the community including crime prevention and reporting and community volunteering in and beyond sport.

3.  The project will link rugby clubs to schools to allow participation beyond school, to provide a safe and supportive "'family" to young people, many of whom have little parental support at home, and to reduce "hanging around" creating fear of crime in the community.

4.  The project will provide kit and equipment to every school, and arrange intra and inter school competitive games. It will offer teacher training on technical skills, motivation and behaviour change, online resources and in-school start-up training for an initial period.

5.  By 2015 we will have reached 75% of the 1,600 schools and will organise a Rugby World Cup celebration at Twickenham for every participating school.

December 2010

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