Project Rugby catapults Luis to a new life

Tuesday 02 March 2021 Written by: Adam

Project Rugby is a the ground breaking, award winning programme by Premiership Rugby in partnership with Gallagher and the RFU, it aims to increase participation in the game amongst underrepresented groups through sessions delivered by community staff at each of Premiership Rugby’s 13 shareholder clubs at more than 200 locations across England.

Luis is a great example of how rugby can have a hugely positive effect on the lives of young people in many ways and he is one of the inspirational young people that we will be turning the spotlight on across Round 12 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby (March 5-7) when all matches will be dedicated to our award-winning community programmes that benefit around 250,000 people annually.

For Luis, his involvement with the programme at Newcastle Falcons has helped him recover following the death of his mum which led to him relocating to the North East, leaving Luis socially isolated and suffering from depression. After taking part in a Project Rugby ‘train like a pro’ day at Kingston Park, Luis ‘found rugby’ and the rest was history.

Not only has the programme helped Luis develop his physical and mental health, as well as his social skills in meeting new people. The programme also encouraged him to become a regular volunteer at his local rugby club North Shields RFC as well as develop a love for watching and playing the sport. He made his 1st appearance for North Shields RFC last season just before lockdown and is desperate to get back involved with his community club and rugby family.

“Luis has a much greater positive outlook on himself and his future which is the biggest difference we have seen since meeting him,” Newcastle Falcons’ funding & development manager Darren Greco said.

“He has found a new support network within the rugby community, especially those at North Shields RFC. Luis has found a place where he feels safe, welcome and now classes the rugby club members as part of his family.

“Physically Luis is in a much healthier place, through his training support at North Shields RFC he has started to lose weight which was one of his key aims to help him play in a full game of rugby.

“Socially, Luis has benefited from being part of Project Rugby as it has allowed him to interact and meet with new people to counter his loneliness and depression. This has given him a massive boost in confidence, enabling him to attend social events with his rugby family, get back into education and have aspirations of a career.”

Greco added: “Project Rugby and North Shields RFC have been the catalyst in Luis developing a positive outlook on life at a young age, becoming motivated and driven to build a life and new family of his own whilst overcoming the loss of his mum. This is the power of rugby.

“Luis has said himself that he is inspired by being part of a rugby family, and he now feels wanted and has a place where he feels welcome.

“If Luis hadn’t attended the Project Rugby transition session at Kingston Park he would not have made this link to the rugby club, he wouldn’t have had a support network or opportunity to volunteer and be part of a team, all of which have played a critical role in the improvement of his physical and mental health.”

Wayne Morris, community & corporate social responsibility director at Premiership Rugby said: “Luis shows exactly how important it was for Premiership Rugby to launch Project Rugby and harness the power of rugby to change lives.

“Project Rugby succeeds because it engages and develops new audiences through rugby and stimulate a lifelong interest in the game and Luis is the perfect example of this.

“We couldn’t run it without the vital support we have received from Gallagher, the RFU and of course our clubs who bring it to life.

“We’ve engaged thousands of participants each year through the delivery by community staff from Premiership Rugby clubs, providing accessible opportunities for people to participate in the game at a time and place that works for them. We look forward to introducing many more to the sport we all love.”