Hastings Kick Starts The Hsbc Rugby Festivals

Former British and Irish Lions captain Gavin Hastings was on hand at Murrayfield on Friday (5 December) to help Scottish Rugby launch the HSBC Rugby Festivals.  HSBC is the Principal Partner of the British and Irish Lions Tour to South Africa next summer and is investing in the world's largest schools programme which is being undertaken by all four home unions.  Hastings, who earned 61 caps for Scotland, was joined by Edinburgh and Scotland back row forward David Callam, to pass on tips and coaching advice to some lucky youngsters from Tynecastle High School.

The original plan for a festival with 450 children from across the region had to be postponed due to the recent cold weather freezing the pitches.  But Hastings and Callam were still keen to meet up with the children to announce the HSBC programme.

Speaking at the launch, Hastings said: "We were due to have 450 children together today to participate in a major rugby festival, but the traditional Scottish weather has put paid to that!

“However, it is still a great illustration of just how much enthusiasm there is for rugby in Scotland. To spend time with the children today and hear how much enjoyment they get from playing the game is fantastic. The festival will still take place in the New Year so the children will still get to take part."

After captaining the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand in 1993, Hastings is an HSBC ambassador for the Lions Tour next summer. Hastings added:”The HSBC Rugby Festivals aim to encourage children who don’t necessarily have many opportunities to play rugby to get involved with the sport that we all love.”

Nick Rennie, Community Rugby Partnership Manager, Scottish Rugby, also backed the scheme and said: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank HSBC and all involved with the HSBC Rugby Festivals for their support.

"We all look forward to seeing the game of rugby being played in more schools and this series of festivals will ensure that children from every region across Scotland have the opportunity to take part, stay active and make new friends."

Over the coming six months, the HSBC Rugby Festivals will involve more than 60,000 children, as well as over 3,000 teachers and coaches. The one-day festivals are being staged in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales - the first time a British Lions sponsor has undertaken such a comprehensive grass roots programme. The initiative will culminate in South Africa during the Lions Tour next summer with more coaching festivals in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

In another first for a Lions sponsor, 40 of the schools participating in the HSBC Rugby Festivals will be twinned with schools in South Africa as part of a kit donation and cultural exchange programme.


Working with the International Rugby Board’s SOS Kit Aid scheme, HSBC will be linking the schools in the UK and Ireland with schools across South Africa. The first of these schools was announced recently by Jason Robinson who was joined by South African Rugby World Cup winner Bryan Habana to twin Pimlico Academy in South London with Hillcrest Primary School in Port Elizabeth.

Giles Morgan, Group Head of Sponsorship, HSBC Holdings plc explained more, “HSBC is the world’s local bank and aims to bring together people from different cultures. Working at the grass roots level of the game is one of the most important elements of HSBC’s sponsorship of the British & Irish Lions, and we are extremely proud to be bringing together children from across the UK and Ireland with children in South Africa. We hope that the children on both sides of the scheme will benefit from learning more about each other’s culture and experiences and that a shared passion for rugby will act as the perfect bond.”