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Home > News > Rugby Union helping police build bridges in East Manchester
Your News Rugby Union helping police build bridges in East Manchester

RUGBY Union as a catalyst for developing links between disengaged youngsters and the emergency services has a good track record in Greater Manchester.

Rugby coaching initiatives bringing the police and the fire service into social and sporting contact with young people have been very successful in the past and the latest project in East Manchester is following that positive trend.

Soccer was initially the vehicle for bringing youngsters and the police from the area together, but after a first forging the links with a game, rugby was flagged up by the youngsters when they were asked what other sporting avenues they would like to explore.

Enter Phil Clarke, the Strategic Rugby Union Manager for the City of Manchester, and his team, together with the Sale Sharks Community Rugby staff. Added weight came in the considerable shape of England players Dean Schofield and Steve Hanley and the project was up and running.

Aldwinians are providing the venue at their Audenshaw headquarters and with help from the city's Youth Service in getting information on the scheme to the right ears, between 20-25 young people have so far been involved in the 10-week programme.

"The first suggestion from the lads was a game of football against the police in their area, but when the offer of further support came, they suggested that rugby might be worth a try," says Phil Clarke: "Sale Sharks were very good in getting behind the idea, the police had people with a rugby background to join the partnership, Manchester City Council Executive Member for Culture and Leisure Mike Amesbury gave us his backing and the Council and the RFU combined to provide a strong coaching team.

"Learning how to play the game and developing the skills involved is one part of the process, but it's also valuable for the youngsters to share in the rugby environment afterwards. They get a bite to eat after each session and the chance to use the clubhouse facilities.

"That obviously imposes certain social disciplines and the lads have responded brilliantly.

"Already we have three players who will be joining the club at the end of the project, while an unexpected bonus has been that two of the police coaches have started playing again for the club.

"The project has been so successful that discussions are currently taking place with a view to spreading this project across the city, so the East Manchester lads have plenty to be proud of."

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