Henley Rugby Club were treated to a surprise visit from Red Roses stars Abby Dow, Leanne Riley and Rachael Burford. Rachael was back at the club where it all started for her. The Red Roses were there to recognise the club as Quilter Kids First Champions for the impressive Kids First approach that the club is taking in creating a great rugby environment for the young players.
The Red Roses were supported by ex-England players Ugo Monye and Danielle Waterman. Similarly, to Rachael, Danielle was also returning to her former club having previously played for the Henley Hawks.
Spirits were high as the Red Roses joined in with the training session. The England stars passed on tips whilst showcasing their skills to the lucky kids in attendance. Participation levels at the under 7’s to under 13’s age groups are a big focus for the club who are engaging with the local community and schools to continuously grow the impressive number of young players who were in attendance.
Henley RFC is the sixth of eight Champions this season to be selected for the prestigious grassroots award. Following on from last season’s excitement around the programme, Quilter are once again travelling across the country, recognising both schools and clubs who have gone above and beyond to put kids first. Winners will be rewarded for thriving in at least one of the following areas: creating a great rugby environment, upskilling coaches, increased participation and growing the female game.
Former Rugby World Cup winner, Danielle Waterman commented: “It’s fantastic to be back at a club I have such fond memories of. You can see from looking around the training session that the club has done everything it can to create a positive learning environment for its young players. By providing a good environment, it allows the kids to focus primarily on enjoying the game whilst also developing their skills.”
On the club being named as a Quilter Kids First Champion, Dax Aiken, Kids First & Junior Chairman at Henley RFC said: “The Quilter Kids First Rugby programme has enabled our players, coaches and volunteers to enjoy everything about rugby on and off the pitch. We have seen some great fun and imaginative sessions taking place within age groups which are really developing players and coaches alike. Equally we are seeing happy and engaged parents and an influx of new players across all age groups who are keen to be involved in the clubs Kids First approach. It’s fantastic for our club to be recognised as a Quilter Kids First Champion and its testament to the hard work everyone involved with the club puts in.”
In addition to the training session with England’s Red Roses rugby stars, a select group of under 13 to under 7 players from Henley RFC will also have the honour of playing at the home of English Rugby, on the hallowed turf of Twickenham Stadium at the end of the season. The kids from winning clubs and schools will be treated as England Rugby players for the day as they enter through the famous Rose and Poppy Gates.
Mike Mainwaring, Head of Sponsorship at Quilter, said: “The Quilter Kids First approach is all about putting children first. Aimed at Under 7 to Under 13 boys and girls, it upskills coaches and creates a great rugby environment, so that everyone stays in the game for longer. It’s great to see the hard work Henley Rugby Club has clearly put into adopting the Kids First approach. The number of kids enjoying their rugby at the club today is testament to the great rugby environment they have created.”
For more information on Quilter Kids First Champions, and to nominate your local club or school please visit: https://www.englandrugby.com/my-rugby/players/kids-first-rugby/champions/