Image ! Southwark Rugby!

The Big Yellow Inner-City Rugby Programme tackles accessibility to rugby

Launched in 2017, The Big Yellow Inner-City Rugby Programme is an initiative that aims to get Year 7 pupils (aged 12-13 years old) playing rugby within schools that currently do not offer the sport as part of their P.E. curriculum.

With weekly sessions for schools in the London borough of Southwark, the programme, which is funded by Big Yellow Self Storage, provides expert coaching as well as facilitating matches and regular festivals for children, with 50% of pupils coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and 90% of BAME ethnicity.

Chris Callaway, Chairman of Southwark Rugby Club, who deliver the sessions, started the initiative after finding most children from inner-city backgrounds have limited access to the sport. Despite Southwark and Lambeth having a similar population to the likes of Oxfordshire, the borough has only 4 rugby clubs in comparison to Oxfordshire’s 35, meaning there are limited opportunities for youngsters to get involved.

Chris commented: “Despite being one of the nation’s most loved sports, rugby is not fully accessible to the young residents of Southwark. Those involved in the Inner-City Rugby Programme are keen to change this through the weekly sessions and to expand the sport in these areas to make it more inclusive.”

As the current programme comes to an end in March, with schools Sacred Heart, ARK All Saints Academy, St Thomas the Apostle and London Nautical involved to date, the Inner-City Rugby Programme are keen to grow the sessions for the next school year, opening the initiative up to more schools and extending the age of those who can participate to both Year 7 and Year 8 pupils.

Chris added: “2017 was the first year for the programme and it was a massive success. In total we worked with four schools in the Southwark area, with 120 pupils participating in the sessions. We’re keen to continue this growth so that not only those already taking part can continue excelling in the sport, but new pupils can also be involved and discover rugby.”

As well as providing regular training, the programme offered coaching from professional players who had come from similar inner-city backgrounds. John Okafor, from the Under 20 team at Harlequins Rugby Club recently trained a group of school children and spoke to them about rugby and the potential career opportunities within the sport.

For more information on the programme, please visit:

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