A new partnership between police and Old Alleynians Rugby Club has helped get kids from Southwark into the sport and learn more about the Met.
Project Rugby was set up give young people across Southwark and Lambeth the opportunity to learn more about rugby – a sport many had never played before – and the Met.
The initiative has seen police working with Old Alleynians Rugby Club in Dulwich and The Harlequins Foundation, the charitable arm of the Twickenham-based club.
Sergeant Chris Bright, who is a rugby coach in his spare time, came up with the idea of joining forces.
He said: “The idea of ‘Project Rugby’ came to me one day whilst at work and I saw a young man running from a police officer and I thought, “This young man should be running on the rugby pitch instead of from the police”. From that moment, ‘Project Rugby’ was born.”
Throughout four one-hour sessions in schools across south London, police officers met students and answered Q&As about the police, aiming to build trust.
Rugby coaches introduced the sport’s core values – such as teamwork and discipline – and taught the skills of the sport, before putting these into practice playing non-contact games.
The final coaching session was given by coaches from Harlequins RFC on Tuesday, February 12 with support from Alleyns and the police. Both clubs hope to keep in touch and continue supporting the young people who took part.
“Many communities do not get exposure to rugby and the host of benefits it brings and we hope that through this project we can aim to give young people a sense of belonging, be part of the rugby community and socialise and make new friends,” Sergeant Bright added.
“Whilst we also intend to educate young people on aspects such as crime reduction, interacting with police and inform them on topics such as stop and search and knife crime, we also want to listen to any concerns the students may be having at home or in their local communities.”