The award-winning Eagle Project is a girls’ rugby programme which aims not only to attract girls to the game, but also to retain them in the sport as they progress through school and into adulthood.
The programme is delivered by Bristol Bears Community Foundation and aimed specifically at girls in Years 8, 9 and 10.
The project, which scooped the PLAY Award at the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Awards in 2015 and 2016, aims not only to attract girls to the game, but also help to retain them in the sport as they progress through school and into adulthood.
At the 2016 Parliamentary Awards, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Francesca Broadbent, as well as Heather Smith from Women in Sport and Rachel Zaltzman from the Equality and Human Rights Commission judged the Eagle Project to have had the biggest community impact of the nominees.
Zaltzman said the project shows positives signs for further expansion.
“The project is smart, sustainable and scalable,” she said.
“If they have additional funding I think it could go right across the area and really deliver rugby for girls from school, into their communities and up to a county and national level.
“They are going for a real end-to-end approach, working in schools and taking them through to clubs, forging a great retention rate in girls playing through their own initiative."
The project was launched after its now key stakeholders approached Bristol Bears for help in growing female participation back in 2012.
Since then it has reached ten secondary schools, per academic year, with each school receiving one session a week for 12 to 14 weeks staged over two terms.
The schools were specially chosen due to their proximity to the identified clubs who have the capability to provide out-of-school continuation for the girls who want to continue with the sport.
When surveyed, 100 per cent of the Year 8 girls involved in the scheme said they had they had learned new skills through the project and Paul Farrelly, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme and Vice-Chair of the Rugby Union All Party Parliamentary Rugby Group, praised the project’s impact.
“Congratulations to Bristol Bears Community Foundation's Eagle Project for winning the PLAY Award,” he said.
“The programme demonstrates how Premiership Rugby clubs can grow the game at the grassroots level and promote physical activity.”
The Eagle Project provides each school with weekly training and coaching sessions, culminating in a girls rugby festival held at the nearest accredited rugby club with dedicated girls junior section.
For further information, or if you would like to get your school involved with the Eagle Project, please contact Geraint Lewis or email@example.com