ROBERT MacDonald, Charlie Parkinson, Charlotte Chard and Crystal Shaw of Weymouth Rugby Club are one of the first groups of Young Rugby Ambassadors chosen by the RFU as part of its commitment to develop young volunteers throughout the game.
Aged between 16 and 20, and drawn from rugby clubs across England, the youngsters will be part of a programme that aims to excite and engage young people in the sport before and after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
MacDonald first became involved in rugby in 2006 at the age of eight and has played in all age groups up to under-16 where he is now a hardworking and well-respected member of the team.
Parkinson first enjoyed rugby in 2003, also at the age of eight, and has played at most levels. He had a brief spell away from rugby but started again in the under-13s, working his way through the age groups, and is now playing for the Colts.
He has had spells in the seniors and can’t wait to claim a place in the first XV.
Chard started playing in 2011 at the age of 17 and has been training and playing for the ladies’ team in the second row.
Shaw first became involved in rugby in 2012, also aged 17, and, like Chard, has been training and playing with the ladies’ team.
She suffered with injuries at the beginning of the season and is looking forward to playing her first full senior game soon.
The quartet and other Young Rugby Ambassadors from across the region attended a conference at Exeter Corn Exchange to launch the RFU initiative.
Exeter is one of 10 host cities chosen to stage matches during next year’s World Cup.
While at the conference the youngsters took part in workshops discussing ideas for community projects, explored different leadership and ambassadorial styles and shared information about the World Cup.
Weymouth RFC is fully behind the Young Rugby Ambassadors scheme and supports their four directly through mentors Sarah-Jane Hanson, who is a leading member of the ladies’ team, and Jon Monaghan, the club’s volunteer co-ordinator.
The mentors are there to offer support and guidance and will be encouraging the ambassadors to promote rugby, including the World Cup, as well as recruiting new players and supporters.
In the build-up to the tournament, the four will be working in their clubs to pass on the latest World Cup news, getting their local communities talking about rugby and will also help to bring players into the 16-24 age group.
RFU rugby development director Steve Grainger is keen to emphasise the benefits of the programme.
He said: “We are committed to support the development of young volunteers at all levels.
“This programme will showcase the talents and potential of young people to club administrators, committees and local communities, to engage more young volunteers in the management of rugby clubs.”
Further information on the programme is available from YRA2015@rfu.com