The IRB welcomes a major new initiative by Sevens World Series sponsor HSBC aimed at introducing thousands of children around the world to Rugby ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
With the breath-taking sport of Rugby Sevens set to make its Olympic Games debut in Rio, the first stage of the global programme features five days of HSBC supported development festivals in Brazil ahead of the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series event in Sao Paulo.
The Brazil element of the two-year development programme began with two coaching sessions in Rio de Janeiro today involving 250 children from the Morro do Cantagalo underprivileged community as well as a special session staged with Sevens greats Waisale Serevi and Ben Gollings on Copacabana Beach. The development activity is in partnership with the Brazil Rugby Union and includes a commitment by HSBC to return to the country during the two year period with coaches to ensure the children continue their Rugby education.
The news comes as a further boost for Rugby in Brazil, following the recent IRB announcement that the Brazilian men and women will automatically qualify for the Rio 2016 Rugby Sevens events.
In Rio for the launch, IRB Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan said: "The IRB welcomes this major HSBC initiative, which complements the IRB’s commitment to develop Rugby in Brazil, which has seen a 25 per cent participation increase since 2011."
"The IRB is committed to the development of Rugby in Brazil with nearly 9,000 boys and girls having been introduced to the sport via a variety of development initiatives in the last five years. So far, more than 500 teachers, coaches and referees have been trained in Brazil to sustain the growth and the IRB invested more than US$400,000 in both development support and high performance initiatives in 2013 to grow participation while increasing competitiveness of the men’s and women’s senior national teams."
HSBC is a long-term champion of Rugby at all levels around the world, and the new partnership with Serevi Rugby will target children who have not previously played Rugby. The programme also has a coach education element which will see hundreds of adults in targeted countries earn their IRB Level One coaching qualification enabling them to continue to work with the youngsters in their communities. Further activations will take place in Hong Kong and the USA later this year.
Speaking on the launch of the programme, Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship for HSBC Holdings, said: "HSBC has been involved with Rugby Sevens since 2010 as the first ever sponsor of the International Rugby Board’s Sevens World Series. The bank sees the potential of the sport to reach new audiences and attract children, in particular, to play the Game."
"Helping to further grow the sport during this crucial period leading up to 2016 is a key aim of our investment. By partnering with the biggest names in the sport in Serevi Rugby, and by working closely with our partners at the IRB and the local Unions, we are hopefully going to enable more youngsters to learn about Sevens and build excitement on the Road to Rio. This week’s activity in Brazil is the start of our increased commitment to helping to grow the sport around the world."
The Brazil leg of the HSBC Rugby Festivals Programme, powered by Serevi Rugby, concludes in Sao Paulo on February 22, before moving to Hong Kong from March 24. Details of the other locations for the programme will be announced shortly.
Player Quotes of Support
“More than anything, Sevens embodies the Olympic ideals of camaraderie, fair play and respect on and off the field of play.” – Shane Williams, Wales
“You play sport at the highest level to challenge yourself to be the best that you can possibly be and to compete with the best from all over the world, and what better stage to do that on than at the Olympics?” – Sue Day, England
“Going to the Commonwealth Games was amazing and to have the chance to go to the Olympics would be right up there with anything you could possibly dream of doing in sport.” – Tamati Ellison, New Zealand
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