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RFU turns to England legend for legacy initiative

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English rugby legend Maggie Alphonsi has been appointed as an ambassador for the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) Spirit of Rugby participation legacy project.

Alphonsi retired from the game shortly after helping England win the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014. She will now devote some of her time to the project, which encourages 16-24 year-olds who wouldn’t normally play rugby to engage with the sport.

Spirit of Rugby was launched last August in 15 locations around the country: Birmingham, Brighton, Exeter, south London, Manchester, Portsmouth, Northamptonshire, Loughborough, Darlington, Bristol, Cumbria, east Kent, Liverpool, Luton and Norfolk.

The initiative is devised, led by and targeted 16-24 year-olds in those regions with support from the RFU, County Sports Partnerships (CSPs), universities and rugby clubs.

It is being funded by Spirit of 2012 – the project which was set up with £47m (US$66.9m, €58.7m) of National Lottery money to make sure the effects of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games spread across the whole of the country.

RFU rugby development director Steve Grainger highlighted some results since the scheme launched nine months ago, including “a regular touch rugby session bringing 50 new players to the game in football-mad Portsmouth” which is “leading to a new generation of qualified coaches and referees”.

He also referenced volunteers in Brighton using the Spirit of Rugby to “break down barriers and common misconceptions associated with disability sport”.

Alphonsi added that Spirit of Rugby was “such an amazing project that will have a real impact on the lives and development of young people in the game”.

“The volunteers I have met so far are all outstanding and show that if you give young people opportunities they can achieve great things,” said Alphonsi, who won 70 caps for England.

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English rugby legend Maggie Alphonsi has been appointed as an ambassador for the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) Spirit of Rugby participation legacy project.
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