The Future Of Street Rugby Is Secure

Scottish Rugby today announced that the future of one of its latest and most successful initiatives to grow the game is secure following a three-year, six-figure investment from new title sponsor G4S Events, Europe's leading independent event security company.

Street Rugby, which recently received a cross-party commendation at the Scottish Parliament, utilises a portion of the £1.4 million 'CashBack for Communities' funding awarded by the Scottish Government, to create an easy to play and portable version of the game to engage with young people in neighbourhoods not traditionally associated with the sport.

Scottish Rugby today announced that the future of one of its latest and most successful initiatives to grow the game is secure following a three-year, six-figure investment from new title sponsor G4S Events, Europe's leading independent event security company.

Street Rugby, which recently received a cross-party commendation at the Scottish Parliament, utilises a portion of the £1.4 million 'CashBack for Communities' funding awarded by the Scottish Government, to create an easy to play and portable version of the game to engage with young people in neighbourhoods not traditionally associated with the sport.

Working in conjunction with local police, Street Rugby - which will now be titled G4S Street Rugby - is targeted at less advantaged areas where crime and anti-social behaviour are high, in a bid to offer a healthy alternative at these key times.

Glasgow Warriors props Moray Low and Jon Welsh arrived at the first official G4S Street Rugby event in Yoker, Glasgow (organised in partnership with Glasgow Community and Safety Services) to join the on-field action before answering a barrage of questions from the eager young players, signing autographs and having their picture taken with the youngsters.

An electrician and amateur boxer before becoming a professional rugby player, Welsh, from Glasgow, does not have what many would stereotype as being a traditional rugby background.

After taking up boxing aged eight, Jon won the Scottish amateur boxing championship aged 14 before being asked by his boxing coach to choose between the two sports he loved.

Jon stuck with rugby and this season earned his first competitive appearance for Glasgow Warriors. He has since gone on to become a stalwart in a young Glasgow front-row with his heroics earning him a call-up to the Scotland A team that beat Tonga 38-7 in November and an invite to train with the Scotland squad ahead of the RBS 6 Nations which begins against France a week on Sunday (7 February).

Welsh said: "The Street Rugby campaign is absolutely brilliant because it means that kids who don't go to a rugby playing school, or haven't yet gone along to their local rugby club, can stay active and get involved in the sport.

"G4S Street Rugby is a great introduction to the sport as it gets the basic skill elements of the game across, like passing, using things like plastic mannequins or giant inflatable goalposts to help them work on their accuracy while keeping it pretty basic and, importantly, fun."

Low added: "Everyone here has had a fantastic night, the numbers have picked up as the evening's gone on because kids passing by see that it's on and, instead of wandering down to the shops, they're coming in and giving it a go.

"It's just a simple, effective way to engage youngsters in the sport, provides a healthy outlet in areas where anti-social behaviour is high while introducing more and more kids to the great game of rugby.

The initiative, which aims to provide free rugby coaching and playing activities for a total of 12,000 youngsters by 2011 was identified by G4S as a valuable community activity within Scotland to engage with all sections of society and ties in well with the security firm's core values of instilling integrity, collaboration and teamwork.

Mark Hamilton, Managing Director, G4S Events states, "The G4S Street Rugby initiative fits closely with the aims and objectives of our business. By investing in local communities we are helping prevent the causes of anti-social behaviour and reduce crime, which will benefit staff and visitors at the events we supply services to.

"Our aim when providing security and stewarding at any event or venue is to anticipate potential security risks and tackle them before they become problems. We also understand the importance of investing in and developing people to help them reach their full potential. We feel these priorities lie at the heart of this community initiative and we are proud to be able to support it."

Thousands of young people aged between 10 and 19 have been introduced to the sport all over Scotland through the non-contact form of rugby that introduces the basic passing and running elements before coaching the more ambitious of the participants in the basic elements of the contact game as the sessions progress.

Colin Thomson, Scottish Rugby's head of community rugby, said: "We believe that Street Rugby can play a major role in helping young Scots to become healthier, safer and stronger while increasing the opportunities for young Scots to play rugby - especially those in disadvantaged areas.

"We want to be the fastest growing sport in Scotland and we've set out our targets in our five year plan to have an extra 11,000 regular players by 2012. We can link this activity to schools and local rugby clubs through out nationwide network of jointly funded development officers.

"These development officers will offer rugby to young people in primary and secondary schools, especially those schools where there's little chance to play rugby just now, creating local rugby centres for disadvantaged and disengaged youngsters."

Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, added: "Playing rugby can help stop kids from getting into trouble and these youngsters will be looking forward to watching the RBS 6 Nations games, particularly after the Scotland team's recent inspirational victory over Australia.

"G4S's sponsorship of Street Rugby will now give more of our young people a chance to take part in this sport. Street Rugby has been supported through the Scottish Government's CashBack for Communities scheme, which is funded by cash from crooks.

"Street Rugby gives our youngsters an opportunity to enjoy learning the skills of the games and be inspired by meeting rugby stars, allowing these youngsters to be all they can be."

Over the last two years Scottish Rugby, working in partnership with rugby clubs and local authorities has put in place a network of jointly funded development officers to work with volunteers to boost numbers playing rugby.

Since the Scottish Rugby development restructure in 2006, the total number of people playing rugby has risen by around 21% (from circa 24,200 to 30,500) while, importantly, the number of young people playing rugby has risen by about 24% (from circa 15,200 to 20,000).

Scottish rugby participation increase over the past two years is broken down as follows:

Youth participation
c15, 200 in 2006
c18,100 in 2007 up c2900 (16%)
c20,000 in 2008 up c1900 (10%)
Youth increase since restructure
c4800 / 24%

Adult participation
c9,000 in 2006
c9,600 in 2007 up 600 (c6%)
c10,500 in 2008 up 900 (c9%)
Adult increase since restructure
c1500 / 14%

Total increase since restructure
c6300 / 21%

New percentages are based on rounded figures from numerous sources including club membership and insurance returns, school affiliate membership returns, Scottish Rugby's online registration system and reports fed back to regional development management from club development officers around the country.

RBS 6 NATIONS - SCOTLAND v FRANCE
Less than 8000 tickets remain to see Scotland take on France on Sunday 7 February, at Murrayfield kick-off 3pm.

Tickets can be purchased in person, from the Scottish Rugby Ticket Centre on Roseburn Street, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm; via the 24-hour hotline on 0844 335 3933 or online at www.scottishrugby.org

There are no ticket sales on match day and no public car parking at Murrayfield Stadium.