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Czech RU Unity Project

Unity Project trip to Prague a huge Success. Staffordshire and North Midlands volunteers together RFU professional staff make a huge impression on the Czech Rugby Union during a successful trip to Prague at the weekend as part of the RFU’s Unity Project.

North Midlands chairman Charlie Hemmings, North Midlands Society referee John Kelly with Matt Elwell, North Midlands Unity Project Co-ordinator and Staffordshire vice president Becky Davies were accompanied by RFU professional staff members Dave Livesey, Stu Eades and Claire Antcliffe on the three-day trip.

During the trip the Unity Team worked with officials of the Czech RFU where together they ran coach education sessions, coached more than 600 youngsters, presented to volunteers from more than 20 of the country’s 29 clubs and ran an education programme for 15 referees.

The aim of the weekend was for the Czech volunteers to take examples of good practice back to their clubs and to ensure that rugby continues to grow in one of Europe’s emerging rugby nations.

Team member Becky Davies from Staffordshire said "It was a pleasure to be part of the Unity Project delivery team.To have the opportunity to network our experience and best practice from Staffordshire,North Midlands and England Rugby, with a developing rugby nation was a truly inspiring and rewarding experience! The scope that the Czech Rugby Union has, with its energy and desire to provide the best rugby experience it can to its growing number of members, is incredibly exciting for the game!

“The weekend was a huge success,” said Elwell, a former chairman of Woodrush. “The response from the Czech officials was very positive and they said that, without the Unity Project, there would not have been the turnout of coaches and volunteers that we got.

“Many of them travelled considerable distances to attend the weekend and they made the most of the opportunity to learn from quality coaching from RFU professional staff.

“The vibe from all those who attended was very positive and we hope that they can take something back to their clubs to ensure that rugby continues to grow in the Czech Republic.”

The visit to Prague formed the latest stage in North Midlands and Staffordshire’s links with the Czech Republic as part of the Unity Project, a ground-breaking project in partnership with the International Rugby Board (IRB), FIRA-AER and UK Sport aimed at growing rugby in 17 European nations around last year’s Rugby World Cup.

Officials from the Czech Republic visited the Midlands last January a again in December when plans for last weekend were drawn up.

“They have a winter break in the season in the Czech Republic but they hold an annual indoor festival in Prague in January,” Elwell said.

“We decided that we would use this year’s festival as a high profile event for the Unity Project and it has been fantastic to work as part of a team with the RFU staff and professional staff and volunteers in the Czech Republic to deliver such a high quality programme.”

The Unity Project forms part of the legacy plans being implemented by the RFU and falls under the wider work of the IRB’s RWC 2015 rugby legacy programme, ‘IMPACT beyond 2015.’

The IRB and FIRA-AER selected the 17 countries for the RFU and its Constituent Bodies to work with over the next three years, with the project formally due to finish in June this year.


L to R : Dave Livesey, Stuart Eades, Matt Elwell, Charlie Hemmings, Claire Antcliffe, Becky Davies, John Wells