HSBC, the sponsor of the International Sevens Series, has today announced a new international grassroots rugby programme partnering with Serevi Rugby, which will introduce thousands of youngsters to the sport in the next two years. The programme is launched this week with five days of HSBC Rugby Festivals in Brazil, before moving to Hong Kong and the United States later this season. Serevi Rugby, led by two of the greatest ever players in the sport Waisale Serevi from Fiji and Ben Gollings from England, will manage the festivals and personally coach the children and adults.
HSBC is a long term sponsor of Rugby at all levels around the world, and the new partnership with Serevi Rugby will target children who have not previously played Rugby. The programme also has a Coach Education element which will see hundreds of adults earn their IRB Level One coaching qualification enabling them to continue to work with the youngsters in their communities.
The two year programme began with two coaching sessions for 250 youngsters in Rio de Janeiro today involving children from the Morro do Cantagalo underprivileged community, as well as a special coaching clinic staged on Copacabana Beach. The activity in Brazil is in partnership with the Brazil Rugby Union and includes a commitment by HSBC to return to Brazil during the two year period with coaches to ensure the children continue their Rugby education.
Speaking on the launch of the programme, Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship for HSBC Holdings said, “HSBC has been involved with Rugby Sevens since 2010 as the first ever sponsor of the International Rugby Board’s Sevens World Series. The bank sees the potential of the sport to reach new audiences and attract children, in particular, to play the Game. Helping to further grow the sport during this crucial period leading up to 2016 is a key aim of our investment. By partnering with the biggest names in the sport in Serevi Rugby, and by working closely with our partners at the IRB and the local unions, we are hopefully going to enable more youngsters to learn about Sevens and build excitement on the Road to Rio. This week’s activity in Brazil is the start of our increased commitment to helping to grow the sport around the world.”
Ross Young, CEO of Serevi Rugby, said, “We are focused on growing the game of Rugby around the world, so partnering with HSBC is an amazing strategic alignment that will further our mission to inspire new players and help develop future Olympians. We’re proud to come together with a proven, global leader in the support of Rugby, to introduce the physical benefits and strong values of the Game to children around the world.”
Waisale Serevi, who won the Rugby World Cup Sevens twice with Fiji, and who formed Serevi Rugby in 2010, said, “We are delighted to work with HSBC on this new partnership to grow the Game; bringing the skills, fun and values of Rugby to new audiences around the world. The moment these children step onto a rugby pitch, they will join a large and tight-knit community of rugby players that unites generations, defies gender and race, and spans the world. I’m thankful to HSBC for the opportunity to give back to the game that has given me so much.”
The IRB announced earlier this month that Brazil, as host nation, will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games. Speaking in Rio for the launch, Mark Egan, IRB Head of Competitions and Performance, said: “The IRB welcomes this major initiative from HSBC, which complements the IRB’s commitment to develop Rugby in Brazil, which has seen a 25 per cent participation increase since 2011.”
The HSBC Rugby Festivals Programme, powered by Serevi Rugby, concludes in Brazil on Sunday 22nd February, before moving to Hong Kong from the 24th March. Details of the other locations for the programme will be announced shortly.