Rugby community calls for positive social change
World Rugby CEO, Brett Gosper stressed the importance of rugby’s values in his opening remarks at Beyond Rugby, part of the Beyond Sport Summit 2015. His sentiments were echoed by Mark McCafferty, CEO of Premiership Rugby and also Ian Ritchie, CEO of the RFU, who was on a panel discussing Try for Change, the RFU’s social responsibility programme.
Brett Gosper, CEO of World Rugby: "Rugby can change lives in a fundamental way. The character of our sport can have such a positive effect on people's lives so we are very happy to add our voice to the excellent things done by Beyond Sport and the programmes that are involved right across the globe."
Ian Ritchie, CEO of the RFU emphasised the importance of all parties collaborating to drive social change: "Private and public partnerships together, that brings real change to the programmes."
Beyond Rugby is a continuation of a conversation to create a more proactive community to address the role of rugby in bringing about positive social change across the globe. Talks and interactive workshops explored multiple topics including how rugby has been used to tackle racial segregation; improve the lives of disadvantaged communities throughout the world; expand academic opportunities for youths and programmes to increase participation amongst the disabled community and women.
Matthew Spacie, founder and executive chairman of Magic Bus, which has used rugby as a tool to help thousands of impoverished children in India, explained the power of rugby: “For eighty minutes they are treated as equals. We use that opportunity to get under the surface, to start looking at some much more important behavioural issues.”
Shane Young, co-founder of Memphis Inner City Rugby said: “Memphis is one of the most segregated cities in America. Rugby is the only way our kids get to interact with their white suburban affluent counterparts.”
On the final panel of the day, Rugby World Cup legends Bob Skinstad, Serge Betsen and 2003 champions Will Greenwood and Lawrence Dallaglio spoke passionately about the power of the game.
Lawrence Dallaglio, whose Foundation works to nurture and develop the essential skills of disadvantaged young people, said: “Rugby has values around teamwork, respect, fun and discipline, and gives young people the chance to develop some pride and self-worth. When you introduce sport it has to be a long term commitment.”
The Serge Betsen Academy in Cameroon uses rugby as a means of education. Its founder and namesake added: “We use rugby as a vehicle to help people into schools and medical assistance. This is what rugby can bring to people, and that is why it’s the best sport in the world”.
[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]