Beyond Rugby: Using Sport as a vehicle for social change

Today sees the launch of Beyond Rugby, an initiative designed to facilitate the use of Rugby to drive social change and benefit, and we met with its founder, Nick Keller to discuss the program.

Beyond Rugby is being staged by Beyond Sport, and will also be backed by the RFU, Premiership Rugby and England’s official kit supplier Canterbury. Beyond Sport promotes, develops and supports the use of sport as a tool for positive change across the world, regularly demonstrating that sport is the number one tool to address global issues such as health, social inclusion, education, environment and conflict.

Beyond Sport

Since 2009 Beyond Sport has awarded over £2.5 million worth of funds and business support across more than 70 organisations in 40 different countries.

Keller is clearly passionate about Sport, and Rugby in particular. An ex-player himself, he was a pioneer in professional rugby, setting up one of the first player agencies to manage talent such as Will Greenwood and Richard Hill.

“Sport was a big part of my childhood, and gave me a much better focus than anything in the classroom ever did. It built up my self-esteem, I forged strong friendships and I got a great sense of achievement from taking part.

“Since we launched Beyond Sport, we’ve seen projects in every sport tackling every social issue, and we know that Sport can deliver in so many different ways.”

Alcatraz“One of my favourite examples is Project Alcatraz in Venezuela, where a factory owner is using Rugby to change the gang culture. He invites gang members to join his Rugby team for 3 months, and gives them a choice at the end of that period: they either work for him in the factory, they become a rugby coach as part of the scheme, or they just go back to where they were before.”

“There’s one key rule, in that if one person leaves, all of them have to leave. The effects have been remarkable, particularly in the homicide rate which has been reduced by 88%.”

Lawrence Dallaglio, a speaker at Beyond Rugby, also recognises the potential: “Sport is incredibly powerful and brings people together in ways nothing else can, which plays a big part in the projects I choose for my foundation. Rugby has given me some of the happiest memories of my life, and initiatives like Beyond Rugby can ensure that that is true for many other young people in this country and across the globe.”

Beyond Rugby will be staged at Twickenham on July 24th, with speakers including Ian Ritchie, Lawrence Dallaglio and Mark McCafferty, bringing together clubs, teams, leagues, sponsors and more to explore the special role rugby can play in wider society.

Beyond Rugby is being staged as part of the Beyond Sport Summit & Awards, a three-day collision of leading figures from sport, development, business, and politics being staged in London just days ahead of the Olympic Games.

Speakers at Beyond Sport will include The Rt Hon Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister and Chairman of the Beyond Sport Ambassadors; Jamie Oliver, the world-renowned chef and campaigner; Olympic gold medallists and Beyond Sport Ambassadors Michael Johnson and Bob Beamon; Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, the most successful Paralympian of all time; and John Amaechi OBE, the NBA legend and political activist.

For more information, please visit and watch the video below for an example of a project from Tanzania.

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