Major Initiative Launched to Boost Rugby Growth

Dublin – Ireland, Jan 22, 2014: Growth, The IRB has partnered with FIRA-AER and the RFU to deliver a ground-breaking project that will drive Rugby growth in 17 European national Unions ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015.

A key component of the IRB’s IMPACT Beyond 2015 programme, the Unity Project will see two RFU constituent bodies pairing with a Union selected by the IRB and FIRA-AER to work with over the next three years.

The European nations and their allocated RFU constituent bodies will work together to devise and deliver development plans to support the growth of the Game. This support could come in the form of helping to train ground staff and facilities managers, through to working on grassroots coach and player development pathways.

The IRB Member Unions and RFU constituent bodies participating in the Unity Project are:

Belgium – Eastern Counties + Notts, Lincs & Derby

Spain – Durham County + Northumberland

Poland – Surrey + Sussex

Portugal – Cheshire + Lancashire

Russia – Berkshire + Middlesex

Romania – Oxfordshire + Gloucestershire

Czech Republic – North Midlands + Staffordshire

Hungary – East Midlands + Cambridge University

Germany – Hampshire + Hertfordshire

Georgia – Kent + Essex

Switzerland – Dorset & Wiltshire + Somerset

Ukraine – Leicestershire + Warwickshire

Netherlands – Cornwall + Devon

Sweden, Denmark & Norway – Cumbria + Yorkshire

Serbia – Buckinghamshire – Oxford University

With eight European teams guaranteed a place at England 2015, FIRA-AER Unions will have the largest representation at Rugby’s global showcase event, while the region boasts more than three million active players, the largest regional playing representation. The Unity Project will ensure that the Region maximises the opportunity of hosting one of the world’s largest sports events.

Speaking at the launch, IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “IMPACT Beyond 2015 is the most comprehensive and far reaching programme for a Rugby World Cup with the aim of attracting and sustaining more than one million new players, coaches, officials and volunteers to the Game by 2016.”

“We are excited to be collaborating with the RFU, FIRA-AER and UK Sport on the Unity Project, a programme that will drive significant playing, administration and development benefits for 17 European Rugby Unions.”

“Rugby World Cup is the financial engine for the global development of the Game and this project underscores our mission of welcoming and sustaining more men, women and children to play and support Rugby worldwide.”

This year the IRB will invest £1.4 million in Rugby development projects across Europe. The Unity Project forms part of the extensive legacy initiatives currently being undertaken by the RFU to ensure that the Rugby World Cup hosting opportunity is maximised and sustained across the Game.

RFU Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “We are honoured and excited to be working with these 17 countries on such an interesting and exciting project. Through the Unity Project we hope to work with the countries to capitalise on opportunities presented by Rugby World Cup 2015 to build a lasting legacy for Rugby across Europe.”

Commenting on FIRA-AER’s involvement in the project, FIRA-AER President Octavian Morariu, said: “With Rugby participation and interest enjoying unprecedented growth across Europe and FIRA-AER and the IRB committed to advancing growth, the Unity Project will be highly instrumental in helping us strengthen and support our Unions.”

Liz Nicoll, Chief Executive of UK Sport, added: “UK Sport is proud to be providing the technical leadership and advice on international development for the Unity Project. It’s good to see the RFU using its major event platform to inspire community participation on a global level, building a lasting legacy for Rugby World Cup 2015.”

With Rugby World Cup 2015 preparations continuing at pace official Supporter Tour packages are now on sale enabling fans from across Europe and around the world to plan their England 2015 experience. Further information can be found at

For all the latest Rugby World Cup 2015 news and information, including details on tickets and how to volunteer, Join The Front Row – and receive the official tournament newsletter. Sign up at —- IRB

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