Grasshoppers part of 1000th Festival of Rugby event

17th October 2015

Grasshoppers part of 1000th Festival of Rugby event
Issued on behalf of England Rugby 2015 and the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

To celebrate the Festival of Rugby 2015 reaching 1,000 events, Rugby World Cup 2003 winner Richard Hill surprised players from St Mary's University 3rd XV rugby team, with a training session ahead of their match last night against Grasshoppers Rugby Club.

The Festival of Rugby 2015, which runs from June 10 October 31st 2015 has already been attended by over 1 million people across the UK, allowing them to be part of rugby's biggest year. Any event held during this time with a link to rugby can be part of the nationwide festival and organisers are today delighted to reach the 1,000 event.

St Mary's University, lucky recipients of this special coaching session, have already seen player numbers grow from 7 to 70 at training and are now being able to field three men's teams. Last night's event was a friendly rugby match against a development team from Middlesex club Grasshoppers.

Rugby World Cup 2003 winner Richard Hill"Festival of Rugby 2015 has helped give more people the opportunity to celebrate rugby or engage with rugby for the first time. Looking at the range of events on offer through the Festival of Rugby 2015 website, it's clearly captured the imagination of the nation, providing people with an outlet to both join in events and host their own rugby-themed events. With just two weeks to go until the end of Festival of Rugby 2015, here's hoping people seize the opportunity to join in the party and get into this great game.

Ty Sterry, RFU development officer and coach at St Mary's University said"The atmosphere last night was superb and the students really got into the spirit of Festival of Rugby. Seeing their faces when Richard Hill walked into their changing room to present their match shirts was priceless.

As the Festival of Rugby 2015 continues there are a wide range of rugby themed events taking place up and down the country as children and adults get inspired to take up the Game and join in the festival atmosphere.

Highlights from the Festival of Rugby 2015 so far have included: a HAKA challenge in Manchester, enlisting the help of Street Shakers, leaders in the field of youth and community sports and dance to encourage people to submit videos of them doing the Haka; The International Defence Rugby Competition with the UK represented by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force and every other nation sending their combined teams; Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Community Festival, including the first ever Wheelchair Youth Tournament, taking place at the famous Copperbox Arena in London and Rugby's Got Balls, supported by Rugby Borough Council featuring large-scale rugby sculptures on display across Rugby town.

Stephen Brown, Managing Director of England Rugby 2015 commented,"Festival of Rugby 2015 truly offers something for everyone, with a wide range of events including art and history exhibitions with a rugby focus, choral concerts singing rugby anthems and touch rugby matches up and down the country. The focus of Festival of Rugby 2015 has been to raise awareness of rugby and get more people involved into the Game and it's fantastic to see the country embrace the initiative and create so many rugby-inspired events.

RFU Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger added:"Festival of Rugby 2015 is a great success and has provided such a fantastic opportunity for us to raise the profile of rugby, in particular club rugby, across the country.

"This is a significant year in the history of the game in England and we want rugby to be among the country's strongest sports, with clubs thriving and participation at an all-time high, to create a lasting legacy for generations to come. We have spent the last three years putting a lot of foundations in place to make the most of this opportunity to inspire people to get involved in rugby and to enjoy a game that has so many benefits, both on and off the field. We will then push on over the next four years to ensure that interest is sustained and that we keep people involved.

There's still a chance to be part of Festival of Rugby, which runs until October 31st. Visit the Festival of Rugby website to submit your event or to find events in your area.

Grasshoppers Development team eventually beat St Mary's University 14 - 10 and Teddington Fat Stags were the winners 26 - 24 against Grasshoppers Vets.

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