Thomas helps spread the rugby word in New York

8 June 2012

Bath Rugby Community Coach, Caryl Thomas, and her fellow representatives of Premiership Rugby have returned from the United States of America where they played a key role in the development and promotion of rugby in the country in a visit that was deemed a great success.

En route the Aviva Premiership Rugby Trophy visited the cockpit of a British Airways plane, Sex and the City actress Kim Cattrall posed with the Aviva Premiership Rugby Trophy in New York's Central Park, and the core values of rugby were used by coaches in their work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to help improve self-esteem, community cohesion and other social outcomes.

On her return, Caryl said: "The trip was a lot of hard work, but also very rewarding and a great experience. We met a huge number of children who hadn't had that much contact with rugby before, but they were really enthusiastic and made the whole trip worthwhile."

12 coaches, one from each of the Premiership Rugby clubs, travelled to New York along with four members of Premiership Rugby's Community Team to help promote the game. The visit follows Premiership Rugby's successful trip to Brazil in March to help in the development of rugby in South America.

Premiership Rugby coaches worked with 1,800 New York school children in Queens, Brooklyn, Harlem, Staten Island and the Bronx, supported the launch of the Great British Run, holding Rugby workshops in Central Park, and attended an end-of-season awards event in Harlem with youngsters' friends and family.

Premiership Rugby and Play Rugby USA coaches mentored schools playing in the Public School Athletics League High School Rugby 7s Final in New York, and Premiership Rugby representatives ran fan engagement fitness testing sessions in the fans village at the 2012 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship in Philadelphia, where the Aviva Premiership Rugby trophy was also on display.

Premiership Rugby's Community Department has developed a number of ground-breaking initiatives including the Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme, the award winning MBNA Tackling Numbers project and the award winning and innovative social inclusion programme Hitz, as well as the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Cup, and ESPN Premiership Rugby Masterclasses.

Wayne Morris, Head of Community at Premiership Rugby, said "This trip to the USA has been a great success. Our programmes demonstrate that Premiership Rugby is a world leader when it comes to community initiatives and I'm delighted that we were given the chance to help promote and grow the game in the USA following our equally successful visit to Brazil in March. I would like to thank Play Rugby USA, USA Sevens Rugby, and the British Consulate General in New York for making us feel welcome and British Airways for providing flights from their Olympic Flight Bursary Programme."

Mark Griffin, President of Play Rugby USA, said: "It was a fantastic opportunity for us and our students to learn from some of the best community coaches in the world. Simply based upon the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received from our partner schools last week our partnership with Premiership Rugby is another high quality addition to our program with the potential to make a significant impact in the world of Rugby-for-Good!"

Each season Premiership Rugby and its clubs invest more than £3 million in a variety of community programmes which aim to grow grassroots participation and tackle core social issues. In the last year alone, Premiership Rugby clubs delivered 150,000 man-hours of community programming to more than 260,000 participants. Premiership Rugby also provides 600 professional players, each a strong role model within their communities, who are involved in supporting the schemes.

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