Maisie sets her sights on becoming a Red Rose thanks to Project Rugby

Tuesday 11 April 2023 Written by: Adam

Hooked on the game after that first session, Maisie attended the Falcons Community after school club set up to attract new players, retain them and grow their skills.

Maisie never looked back. She became a regular at the sessions, committed to improving her skills and in gaining a deeper understanding of the game. Her goal is now to play as an England Red Rose in front of her Grandad Bill, who watched on as she flourished during these early sessions.

Maisie is just one inspirational individual being celebrated during Round 22 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby (14 – 16th April).

Over the weekend, all games will be dedicated to the award-winning community programmes run by the 11 Clubs and Club foundations. In a celebration of how rugby has the power to change lives, every club will showcase the community work taking place, sharing stories of some of the individuals supported on these programmes, and the people who make them possible.

Project Rugby is delivered in conjunction with partners Gallagher, title partner of Premiership Rugby, and the RFU, and is designed to introduce as many people as possible to the benefits of rugby. The programme was launched to ensure that everyone can experience and participate in rugby, like Maisie did.

With a specific focus on engaging participants from traditionally underrepresented groups, no matter their background, ability or gender, it facilitates sessions for anyone to try out the sport loved by so many. Coaches and volunteers from Premiership Rugby Clubs and Club Foundations across the nation run sessions that are welcoming and easily accessible within their local communities.

Project Rugby has been running since 2017 and nearly 85,000 people have participated in sessions held at over 200 different locations across England. Harnessing rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline, and sportsmanship the programme has inspired and motivated many young people to seek out local teams to play rugby so they can continue to reap the benefits of playing regularly.

Thanks to Project Rugby, Maisie’s Red Rose dream is not a pipedream. She has gone from feeling like she could never play rugby to now, four years on, being selected for the North East & Cumbria Centre of Excellence. Shaping her career path along with her friendship group, rugby has provided Maisie with the ability to inspire other girls in her school and the surrounding area to take up rugby. Playing at her local club Gateshead RFC she passes on the core values she learned through her Project Rugby sessions and displays these regularly during her own game.

She says: ‘‘I never knew at that first Project Rugby session how much rugby would change me. Now I can’t imagine life without it! I want to coach now too so I’m looking at qualifications I can do. I want to give back to rugby just some of what I have taken from it. It’s changed my life for the better for sure.’’

Dedicated to completing her qualifications whilst playing at the Falcons Community Rugby Excellence Programme with Tyne Met College, Maisie aspires to become a Sports Therapist or Psychologist.

Wayne Morris, Community & CSR Director, Premiership Rugby says: ‘’Hearing Maisie’s story epitomises why we are committed to future-proofing programmes like Project Rugby. We believe everyone can benefit from the core values of rugby and it has the power to change lives. Project Rugby provide opportunities for young people to play irrespective of background, ability or gender. To see young people like Maisie grow and have ambitions to play for her country, after previously never engaging with sport, is what this programme is all about.’’

Charles Scott, Chief Financial Officer at partner Gallagher, and a Project Rugby volunteer said: “We are passionate about the fantastic work Project Rugby does and Maisie’s story is a great example of why this initiative is so important. Getting involved in rugby has truly changed Maisie’s outlook and will instil confidence and determination in her for many years. This really demonstrates the power of rugby and the rewards of playing this great sport.”