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Barclays Spaces for Sports launches FairPlay, a rugby-based programme aimed at changing the attitudes of more than 2,400 ‘at risk’ youngsters through a series of training schemes across the country.

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There's been some great examples from this programme of what these hard-to-reach young people can achieve. One lad from the PRU has joined High Wycombe RFC having never played contact rugby before. He played recently and scored two tries - he was absolutely full of it and said afterwards - that's the best thing I've done for a long time.
Bob Hardman, a Community Rugby Coach for the RFU in Buckinghamshire

Barclays Spaces for Sports launches FairPlay, a rugby-based programme aimed at changing the attitudes of more than 2,400 ‘at risk’ youngsters through a series of training schemes across the country.

Young people excluded from mainstream education are making the most of an innovative rugby-based initiative.

FairPlay supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports is aimed at changing the attitudes, enthusiasm and lives of more than a hundred ‘at risk’ youngsters in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) through a series of training schemes across the country. Children’s charity Wooden Spoon teamed up with Barclays Spaces for Sports, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Enterprise Education Trust to launch a series of eight-week schemes for those who have been excluded from school.

There are around 31 projects across England at present.

A number of young people from PRUs in the London area gathered at Hackney Community College to take part in a rugby tournament and celebrate the success of the programme to date.

James Cooper, a Community Rugby Coach for the London boroughs of Islington, Camden and Hackney believes the scheme has been a very positive experience for the young people participating. “Since we started our three local schemes in January, we have seen numbers increase and trust has gradually built up.  I let them set their own rules, which they must stick to, and discuss what is acceptable behaviour, both towards coaches and each other.

All this helps them feel they have a say in what is going on, and underpins some of the core values of rugby, such as respect and teamwork.  All our groups have been great to work with and are demonstrating a real enjoyment and talent for the game.”

The youngsters were joined at the event in Hackney by Jason Leonard OBE, England’s most capped rugby union player and Lead Ambassador for Wooden Spoon, who said: “Rugby is a contact sport which has a proven track record of helping young children manage their aggression, increase their aspirations and effort, and modify their behaviour for their own benefit and that of the communities from which they are drawn.

“From previous projects Spoon has found that rugby helps young people at risk of violence feel less threatened, it manages individual anger problems, and the discipline of the sport is helping young people fit into education and employment.”

Kevin Wall, Managing Director, Head of Corporate Coverage for EMEA at Barclays, said: “We are delighted that the FairPlay programme is already having such a positive impact across the country.  We know from the feedback we are getting from our community sites and other projects how opportunities through sport can deliver major benefits to young people, not only in terms of tackling issues such as crime and anti-social behaviour, but also in developing their skills and confidence and improving their future prospects.”

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