RFU launch O2 Touch with Boris Johnson
Mayor of London Boris Johnson and England World Cup winner Will Greenwood joined forces today to launch O2 Touch, an RFU initiative which aims to get England playing touch rugby this summer.
With the Rugby World Cup 2011 taking place in New Zealand this September the level of interest in rugby is due to increase over the coming months. O2 Touch, run in conjunction with the RFU, is encouraging everyone to get active, play touch and have fun with a rugby ball this summer.
Speaking at today’s launch outside City Hall, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:
“Rugby doesn't need to be a full contact sport and the O2 Touch programme enables everyone, young or old, male or female, to have a go, get fit and have fun.
“I'm a big fan of rugby and fully support this new initiative to get people more active. That is why I am also announcing today that I am providing funding of £115,000 to help complement the scheme in London. With England hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2015 I want everyone to get behind the sport and give it a try.”
England players Simon Shaw, Riki Flutey and Maggie Alphonsi participated in a touch rugby workshop at the launch to demonstrate just how enjoyable the sport is. Touch rugby can be played by all ages with mixed gender teams a regular feature. The simplicity of the rules allows players to self-referee matches and play pretty much anywhere with teammates, family or friends.
Local clubs, National reach
To bring touch rugby to life, RFU affiliated clubs across England will be running weekly touch rugby sessions throughout the summer. Everyone is invited to come along to his or her local rugby club, try it out and see how accessible and welcoming their local club is. The RFU has distributed hundreds of touch rugby training kits, including balls, bibs and cones, to participating clubs in order to help get them up and running. You can find your local club on RFU.com.
The O2 Touch programme is designed to introduce new or existing players to touch rugby via their local clubs. Whether they are retired rugby players who can no longer play 80 minutes, touchline parents who fancy a bit of the action without the intensity of a full rugby game, or sportsmen and women who want to keep fit during the off-season, touch rugby is a great solution.
O2 Touch is the first initiative to be rolled out to support the RFU’s Choose Rugby campaign which aims to increase participation in the sport ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2015. Through Choose Rugby the RFU is encouraging people to find a rugby club and start, restart or carry on playing rugby, either in the traditional 15-a-side game or in modified short and non-contact versions of the game, touch, tag or sevens.
Ronan Dunne, UK Chief Executive Officer at O2 said:
" Our longstanding association with England Rugby is something we are very proud of. We have supported the English game from elite to grassroots levels since 1995 and are committed to making rugby as accessible as possible. O2 Touch provides men and women across the country with the opportunity to discover just how much fun rugby is. With the Rugby World Cup just around the corner, it is the perfect time for everyone to pick up a ball and show their support.”
Chance to play at Twickenham
To encourage players to participate in the O2 Touch programme, the RFU is running an online competition with winners having the chance to play at Twickenham.
For a chance to win, touch rugby players will be encouraged to go along to their club and film themselves in action to demonstrate how easy and inclusive it is to have a go. The RFU has produced its own video at Twickenham to get the creative juices flowing and to inspire potential players to get involved.
To increase the intensity of the competition, entrants will be asked to pledge their allegiance to the North or South, depending on where their club is based. To be in with a chance of representing the North or the South at Twickenham teams can upload their film at the O2 touch section of RFU.com. An RFU committee will select the top five films from the North and the South, with the winning teams getting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at Twickenham.
England’s second highest try scorer of all time, Will Greenwood, added:
“There is so much high quality rugby coming up over the next four years and it is a great time to be involved with, and playing the sport. Touch rugby is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game, it is so easy to pick up and no matter what age you are or which part of the country you are from, it is a great way to have fun while playing rugby.”
To find out more about O2 Touch and the competition, visit www.rfu.com/O2touch
To find out more about Choose Rugby, visit: www.rfu.com/chooserugby