The umbrella organisation of Aviva Premiership Rugby is supporting Brazil's efforts to develop and raise the profile of rugby in Brazil by helping export the game to South America in a ground-breaking initiative.
The coaching party, including Sale Sharks' Community Coach Joe Walker, departed for South America the day after the Aviva Premiership Rugby season kicked off at Twickenham with the London Double Header which they all attended, and they will stay in Brazil for 12 months.
The programme is Premiership Rugby's second overseas project after twelve different Premiership Rugby Community Coaches went to New York in May to play a key role in the development and promotion of rugby in the country.
"Rugby will be part of the Olympic programme for the first time in 2016. Therefore this is a crucial time to develop a project like this, not only for those taking part in the sport, but also for general awareness and knowledge for the entire population," said Premiership Rugby's Brazil Project Manager, Scott Watson.
"This innovative programme uses the strength of rugby and the knowledge, infrastructure and expertise of each partner to deploy Premiership Rugby brands and professional coaching staff into São Paulo to engage with children and young people to deliver health, education and social outcomes whilst promoting the growth of rugby union.
"This project will use rugby as a tool for education and the promotion of social development and inclusion. Throughout its implementation, it will build a legacy of the sport in the country. It is the very first initiative to promote rugby union in Brazil."
Premiership Rugby's Community Department has developed a number of ground-breaking initiatives including the Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme, the award winning MBNA Tackling Numbers project and the award winning and innovative social inclusion programme Hitz, as well as the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, and the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Cup.
Wayne Morris, Head of Community at Premiership Rugby, said "Each season Premiership Rugby and its clubs invest more than £3 million in a variety of community programmes which aim to grow grassroots participation and tackle core social issues. In the last year alone, Premiership Rugby clubs delivered 150,000 man-hours of community programming to more than 260,000 participants. Premiership Rugby also provides 600 professional players, each a strong role model within their communities, who are involved in supporting the schemes. Our programmes prove that we are a world leader when it comes to our community initiatives."
The partnership project between Premiership Rugby, British Council and SESI will lead to:
-Implementing a pilot rugby project in 12 of SESI-SP schools. Each school has around 1,000 students. The resulting 12,000 rugby players would represent an immediate increase of 120% in the number of rugby players in Brazil today.
-Targeting hard-to-reach children or children at risk and use rugby and its core values to raise aspirations and initiate behaviour change.
-Establishing local, young, rugby teams in 12 cities and sport centres.
-Improve the students' knowledge of the English language through contact between young British people, students and the community.
-Create sustainable players pathways from schools into clubs.
-Support SESI's staff training programme covering the delivery tag rugby, and potentially rugby 7s of rugby union.
-Co-development of resources to support learning and aid sustainability.
-Build a solid link between the 12 UK coaches from Premiership Rugby Clubs and the 12 SESI centres in São Paulo, based on the sharing of good practices and experiences in promoting rugby as a tool to encourage cultural relations.
Higher profile events and matches would draw the attention and attendance of Tier One and Tier Two countries, including the media, sports people and celebrities. In addition it could instigate the interest of policy makers and stakeholders in sports at the governmental level.
Joe Walker is pictured with his coaching colleagues, third from left in the front row.