Rugby Champions Goes National

Scotland international, Ally Hogg, revisited his old school, Stirling High School, today to announce the nationwide roll-out of Scottish Rugby's 'Rugby Champions' programme and new national partner, Scottish Widows Bank. Rugby Champions aims to increase the number and amount of rugby played in state secondary schools while rewarding the dedicated school teachers who give up their spare time to take extra-curricular rugby.Scotland international, Ally Hogg, revisited his old school, Stirling High School, today to announce the nationwide roll-out of Scottish Rugby's 'Rugby Champions' programme and new national partner, Scottish Widows Bank.

Rugby Champions aims to increase the number and amount of rugby played in state secondary schools while rewarding the dedicated school teachers who give up their spare time to take extra-curricular rugby.

As a result of the successful central region pilot, the number of affiliated rugby schools in the region has risen from 7 to 17, and the number of school teams has risen from 39 to 48 (23%).

Scotland back-row forward, Ally Hogg, said: "This initiative is a fantastic way of getting kids involved in sport from an early age and will not only benefit Scottish rugby but the whole of Scotland by encouraging more young people to be fit and active."

Scottish Rugby expects the initiative, once rolled out nationwide this summer, to take the number of Scottish state schools playing rugby from 184 to 300, over the next three years.

Community Rugby Partnership Manager, Nick Rennie, said: _x001C_It is vital, for the future of Scottish rugby, that we support rugby at all levels and all ages.

_x001C_We are giving our full support to school volunteers resulting in the creation of more rugby opportunities for Scotland's state school children._x001D_

The programme operates by rewarding the school's registered rugby champion with personal coaching kit, and provides the school with specialist rugby equipment for coaching and training; additional equipment is then provided as rugby develops at the school in accordance with levels of participation.

Colin Thomson, Head of Community Rugby, said: _x001C_This programme underlines Scottish Rugby's objectives to ensure that rugby is open and available to all, while greatly contributing towards our strategic targets of a 38% increase in young people playing rugby, and a total playing population of 38,000 by 2012._x001D_

Graeme Hartop, Managing Director at Scottish Widows Bank, added: _x001C_The Rugby Champions scheme is an excellent initiative both in increasing participation in rugby and encouraging Scottish children to become more active. As an Edinburgh based financial services company with a proud Scottish heritage, we are pleased to be in partnership with the Scottish Rugby and supporting them in rolling out the Rugby Champions scheme.