Lismore RFC is today (Monday 14 December) launching a new youth programme designed to create increased opportunities for young players based in South East Edinburgh to engage in rugby.
The aim of the new youth programme, named ‘Edinburgh Harlequins’, is to provide a rugby hub for young people from 5 high schools – Castlebrae, Gracemount, Holyrood, Liberton and Portobello - to take part in regular training activity and games led by qualified coaches, teachers and volunteers.
Edinburgh Harlequins will host boys and girls teams for participants aged 11 to 18, with a view to extending this to younger age groups in the near future.
By bringing participants from the 5 high schools together under the Harlequins banner, the club can offer a more strategic approach to developing young players with opportunities to play the game, and support both their rugby and personal development.
In 2010 Lismore RFC created its first Youth Schools Programme, delivering rugby to local primary and high schools as part of the curriculum, which has supported over 10,000 individuals aged between 8 and 25 in the last 10 years.
As part of the Harlequins programme, the club will continue to deliver a curriculum-based rugby and personal development programme to Castlebrae, Gracemount, Holyrood and Liberton high schools through the Scottish Rugby ‘Schools of Rugby’ programme funded by CashBack for Communities, a Scottish Government programme.
Lismore RFC Development Officer- Eric Jones, who is leading the Edinburgh Harlequins, and has been coaching for over 12 years, said:
“Edinburgh Harlequins has been a few years in the making and I’m delighted to launch the programme today. Aligning these 5 high schools under this programme means that players will see more game time, increased attainment, never-before access to quality facilities, along with expert support to develop their skills and knowledge of the sport. We will also be breaking down traditional barriers to collaboration.
“Despite Covid-19 impacting our ability to deliver a full rugby programme as we know it, we have been following Scottish Rugby’s Return to Rugby Levels Framework and this has allowed our players to enjoy training and modified game-time over the course of the last few months.
“We have actually seen an increase in youth membership during the current period which I think is great. There is no pressure of games, conferences of leagues at the moment and I think this is a great opportunity for young people to get involved.
“I’ve been very impressed with the development of our young people in a difficult time and I can’t wait to see them pull on the Edinburgh Harlequins strips for the first time in the New Year!”
Also involved in coaching the programme are 6 Development staff members including Scotland International Lisa Thomson, 6 volunteer coaches and 6 teachers.
Lismore RFC Club President, Hamish Skene said: “Lismore RFC is a community focused club, and we believe that rugby has a huge potential to have a positive impact on young people’s health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Our Edinburgh Harlequins programme will enable us to continue making the sport and its attributed benefits accessible to the young people in our area.
“I would like to thank our Funders and Community Partners who are supporting our programme. Thanks to them, we can ensure that young people in South Edinburgh have the chance to not only try rugby, but thrive as a result of engaging in the sport.”
Watch our promotional video featuring voice over from Broadcaster and Sports Commentator Paul Mitchell: https://youtu.be/1SxhqbbfWTo