For the first time, the British & Irish Lions are today launching a grassroots programme in partnership with the four home Unions called ‘Pick of the Pride’.
The ‘Pick of the Pride’ programme has been developed in collaboration with the four home Unions with the aim of using the Lions brand to inspire a future generation of rugby players and to help retain existing youth players in the game.
Four ambassadors aged 18 to 21 will be selected from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales based on their involvement and contribution to grassroots rugby, vision for the future of the game, and understanding of the Lions core values – respect, integrity, discipline and friendship.
The ambassadors will travel to New Zealand to immerse themselves in the culture of New Zealand rugby, to understand the challenges facing youth rugby globally and establish a network with their counterparts. They will then bring their learnings back in order to share these with their own clubs and with other clubs in their region.
Tom Grace, British & Irish Lions Chairman and 1974 tourist, said: “The British & Irish Lions are offering the experience of a lifetime. The ‘Pick of the Pride’ ambassador programme is a chance to go to New Zealand to learn, inspire, and challenge themselves to be the best they can be, and to share their experiences with their peers and make a difference.”
IRFU Director of Rugby Development Scott Walker commented: “This is a fantastic initiative that goes to the very heart of our game and focuses in on the positive attributes that rugby promotes both on and off the field.
“There are many great young volunteers actively promoting and developing rugby in Ireland’s clubs and schools and this initiative presents an incredible opportunity to have a shared learning experience in one of the world’s most intense rugby environments.”
British & Irish Lions Chief Operating Officer Charlie McEwen said: “Fans throughout the world have followed and enjoyed the Lions tours over the last 129 years and now for the first time the phenomenon of the Lions will be used to directly have an impact on grassroots rugby in the UK and Ireland.
“Working closely with the home Unions, we hope that the programme will help rugby communities understand best practise, build and develop the game of youth rugby and create a global network to share ideas at home.”
To enter the ‘Pick of the Pride’ selection process for 18 to 21-year-olds, go to www.lionsrugby.com/learning.