Luke Fitzgerald was on hand on Tuesday to launch the Irish Rugby Football Union ‘Play Rugby’ programme that is intended to target increasing participation levels in primary schools across Ireland…

The Play Rugby programme contains classroom plans and teaching aids to assist teachers, coaches and parents involved in rugby at mini and primary school level. The programme consists of full service packs that are delivered to schools through the network of IRFU Provincial Branch Community Rugby Officers and allows teachers who have no experience of rugby to bring the game to the children in their classes.

Play Rugby provides teachers and school children with session plans, video clips on how to play fun games, individual Play Rugby certificates for all members of the class and game cards that set out individual exercises and fun games for children. The origins of the Play Rugby programme are based on research that found participating in sports can have a healthy developmental impact on young children. These activities can promote co-operative play, teamwork and good sportsmanship, a key component in the ethos of rugby.

The Play Rugby programme also contains additional information for schools and clubs who would like to set up a girls rugby programme. Women’s Rugby has been targeted as a specific growth area for the game in Ireland and comes directly following the success of the Ireland Women’s team who achieved their highest ever ranking at the recent Rugby World Cup with seventh place.

All schools, teachers and parents interested in the programme are encouraged to visit the website at www.irishrugby.ie/playrugby to review details of the programme. In addition to this, Community Rugby Officers in each of the four provinces will also be delivering Play Rugby packs to schools and clubs throughout September and any school or club interested in the programme should contact the IRFU Provincial Branches in Connacht, Leinster, Munster or Ulster.

“Play Rugby is a great way to introduce beginners to the game and also to continue the interest of those kids who may already be involved”, said Ireland and Leinster star Luke Fitzgerald. “I have always believed that the best way to get young children playing the game is to make it fun and Play Rugby certainly does that. I think it is also really important that it makes it easy for teachers, coaches and parents to organise the children to play these non contact games and get them running around and exercising in a fun way. It is these sort of programmes that sow the seeds for children to have a healthy respect for keeping active and also to play rugby.”