AN AMBITIOUS and unique initiative has been launched to establish Coventry as one of the leading cities in the world for Rugby by 2023 – the sports 200th anniversary.
Coventry Rugby Club, Wasps and Coventry Bears have all joined forces with a host of key organisations with the hope of developing and promoting rugby union and rugby league across the city.
Coventry, a City of Rugby (CoR) has been drawn-up by local sporting bodies, education providers and other leading figures as part of the ten year Coventry Sports Strategy, with rugby being highlighted as one of the city’s key sports.
The aim is to develop the sport from grassroots to elite level, by driving up participation, coaching and volunteering across all ages and connecting schools, colleges, universities and communities with local clubs.
The initiative will build on the region’s proud rugby heritage and through its eight objectives and plans have been developed to increase participation, improve facilities, unlock more funding to support clubs and attract major rugby events to the city.
A particular focus has been set on making the game more accessible to women and girls, people with disabilities and those from non-traditional rugby playing backgrounds.
“As a City of Rugby, we aim to put Coventry at the forefront of the sport by providing access to high quality rugby coaching which enables both children and adults to enjoy the sport and realise their full potential,” said Councillor Abdul khan, deputy leader and lead councillor for sport.
“It is also important we take advantage of Coventry’s unique position as the only city in the Midlands to host both professional and semi-professional teams in Rugby League and Union, to nurture the talent of the future.
“Rugby has a proud tradition and it’s a sport that can be enjoyed at a wide range of levels – for fun and to keep fit as well as competitively.”
Coventry, a City of Rugby has been backed by both the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Rugby Football League (RFL) and now a group has been set up with representatives from all major rugby interests in the city to oversee the seven-year strategy.
The group is co-ordinated by the Engage! Coventry programme, who will be working closely with the RFU and RFL.
Tom Clift, programme manager of educational rugby initiative Engage! Coventry, added: “We have a fantastic and unique opportunity to seize the moment and build on Coventry’s rich rugby heritage, inspiring people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to regularly participate in the game,”.
“The City of Rugby initiative is not just about getting people involved in playing or coaching rugby – we also recognise the integral role the core values of the game can play in uniting communities, addressing public health inequalities and promoting educational, social and behavioural change within targeted groups, which we aim to maximise and promote to build a better city.”
The City of Rugby Steering Group is a formal collaboration between the RFU, RFL, Engage! Coventry, Coventry Sports Network, Coventry Rugby, Wasps, Coventry Bears, Warwickshire RFU, Premiership Rugby, Coventry Sports Foundation, Coventry Sports Trust, Coventry City Council, University of Warwick, Coventry University, C&W Chamber of Commerce, Coventry Schools Union and the Millerchip Family Fund.
For more information visit www.cityofrugby.org or follow @CityofRugby on Twitter.