How rugby is helping to increase participation among under-represented groups

members icon
Project Rugby ()

This week’s grassroots story focuses on Project Rugby, a project designed to increase rugby participation among under-represented communities.


Project Rugby is a grassroots community programme which aims to attract young people from Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, areas of high deprivation and those with disabilities to try rugby union and join their local club. The joint initiative delivered by the 14 Premiership Rugby clubs, works together with England Rugby’s regional workforce and grassroots clubs.

The project aims to challenge existing perceptions of the game, positioning rugby as a sport for anyone regardless of background, ability or gender and reduce social isolation and improve levels of social connectedness.


The aim of the project was to reach over 12,000 participants by Summer 2018 and provide accessible opportunities to play rugby, in over 200 community locations across England, transitioning new players and volunteers into local rugby clubs.

Since the project started in 2017, over 14,000 people have taken part  from the three target groups: BAME people, young people from low income areas and disabled people. The project has helped to transition participants from Project Rugby activity into regular rugby participation and has helped to improve individual wellbeing.

In 2018, Project Rugby was awarded the Best Sports Governing Body Initiative at the Sports Business Awards. Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director, added: “We’re very proud to receive this award which recognises the positive impact Project Rugby is having in bringing the game to underrepresented audiences.  This accolade is a testament to the hard work of all those individuals involved both on and off the pitch.”

Quotes from participants who have benefitted from the programme

“I had a rare condition that would not allow me to walk again. Project Rugby has helped me stay involved in the sport”. Tim, Project Rugby Participant

“At the start, I was scared, but it’s helped with confidence. I’m no longer scared to go in for tackles.” Zakk, Project Rugby Participant

To find out how to get involved in the project click here.

If you have a case study which highlights how you've positively engaged with your local area, please get in touch with