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Mayor funds new scheme to bring Touch Rugby to the workplace to help boost sporting participation across the capital

17 June 2011

  • Free RFU sessions for men and women to help boost sporting participation across the capital

As part of an unprecedented drive to get Londoners in every corner of the capital more active and boost sporting participation in the run up to and after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson is giving workers in the capital the chance to try out rugby for free.

£115,000 is being invested from the Mayor's 2012 Sports Legacy Fund to provide free Touch Rugby sessions in the workplace. This form of the traditional game requires little equipment and goal posts and participants control play by touching opponents or the ball without physically tackling them. This means it can be played almost anywhere in the capital and this investment will fund taster and team sessions across the city in places as varied as cafeterias, car parks and green spaces, as well as rugby clubs.

The new scheme, called Touch London, is part of the Mayor's £15.5 million drive to deliver a sporting legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and get Londoners out and about in healthy activity.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'It is essential that we deliver a Games that everyone can get involved in and feel a part of. Once again through this fund we are harnessing the benefits and opportunities from the Games reaching out to every corner of our capital and beyond.

'Touch Rugby is a fantastic sport that exercises every part of the body. It also encourages competitiveness on the field, as well as teamwork and enjoyment, but without the mud and weekend commitment. With the Rugby World Cup returning to England in 2015 there's no better time have a go at this great variation on the traditional game on your doorstep.'

With funding from the Mayor via the Rugby Football Foundation (RFF), the new programme is being organised by the Rugby Football Union. It will use volunteers and staff from 22 London rugby clubs to deliver free weekly touch rugby sessions in close proximity to large workplaces and the RFU commitment to the programme is underpinned by matched funding. The programme starts on 1 July and will take place across all 33 Boroughs of London with a minimum of 250 people participating per borough, 40 per cent of whom are expected to be currently inactive.

Touch London will include 20-minute taster and 'grab' sessions that people can do in work clothing, as well as more formal one hour playing sessions in mixed groups. There will also be activities clustered around rugby clubs who have agreed to host sessions for further coaching. Workplace champions and local volunteers, alongside community coaches will help encourage and develop leagues and annual tournaments aimed at getting more Londoners taking up the sport.

The Mayor's Commissioner for Sport, Kate Hoey MP said: 'If you head down to Southwark Park, or Burgess Park, or Finsbury Park this evening, you are bound to see a game of touch going on somewhere. It's a growing sport and one that works really well in London. This programme that we are funding will bring the game to many thousands of Londoners and play a key role in ensuring that we see a real grass-roots sporting legacy right across this city.'

Sally Pettipher, Campaign Director from the Rugby Football Foundation, commented: 'We are extremely grateful for this award by the Mayors’ office which will enable us to take the game and the values of rugby into new areas. We have experience of running similar programmes in hospitals in the Midlands where we have seen over 100 people per hospital getting healthier through Touch Rugby. We are looking forward to replicating that in London and it’s just one part of our drive to grow the game of rugby beyond its traditional environment and builds on the RFU O2 Touch programme in clubs, schools and universities.'

People wanting to sign up or find out more about Touch London should contact Peter Macaulay or Jo Martin at the RFU on or and a new web page is in development on to support the programme.

The award is the first to be announced in the second round of the Mayor's Sports Participation Fund, which last year provided £2.3 million for 18 projects across London. The latest round sees a further £2 million being given to projects. Worth between £50,000 and £250,000 each, details of the other second round awards will be released in due course. 

Notes to editors

The Mayor has initiated a £15.5 million programme to deliver a sporting legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The programme provides funding to projects that meet the following criteria:

  • Increase participation in sport (grants from £50,000-£200,000) Projects which engage people who are currently 'inactive' and get them involved in sport to promote better health and healthy living.
  • Use sport for wider social benefits, with grants from £50,000-£200,000 available. These are projects that take a holistic approach to community development through sport; that encourage people to work in partnership for the benefits of their local communities; and that use sport to help bring long term positive change.

Funding is also available for sports facilities and to train coaches and volunteers in sport.

To date, over £5.5 million has been awarded to numerous sports projects across London.

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