Rugby’s Power To Change Lives is a new series of features for Out On The Full. These features highlight the ability that our great sport has to change lives for the better and showcases some of the outstanding work that is going on all over the country. #RugbyChangingLives

The Worcester Warriors’ 2013/14 season on the field didn’t quite end in the way that it was intended to however off the field their Community Team celebrated the year with a spot of silverware at The Premiership Rugby Community Awards.

The awards celebrate the  work that Premiership Rugby clubs deliver in their local communities and showcase some truly outstanding projects, of which the Worcester Warriors Homeless RFC Programme is one. During Worcester’s time in the Aviva Premiership features and interviews on BT Sport allowed us all to see the stunning work that they do off the field and this project is just one of their initiatives. When I interviewed Chris Pennell for Out On The Full he spoke about the Warriors’ contribution to their local area and told me how proud he was to be able to make even just a small difference in the community.

As someone who has always been extremely fortunate to grow up in a secure and stable home I can only imagine what a lonely and scary place the world is without the security of a roof over your head. The Warriors’ project works closely with the Worcestershire YMCA, and aims to create positive experiences for the residents through rugby and uses the sport as a springboard for self-improvement on the road to a better life. Training sessions are run every week, matches are played on a monthly basis and the core values of rugby are focused on, in particular teamwork and discipline. Its success is evident from participant Richard Oxenbury’s words about the project;

“It’s made my life better from being on drugs and drink, to helping me get back on the straight and narrow and keeping fit. With the two coaches boosting your confidence and setting you goals, you move forward.”

Worcester’s Community Education Programme Co-ordinator Dave Rogers spoke to Out On The Full about the project;

“As a Community Team we saw that this was a big gap in our delivery. Worcester has higher than the national average rates of homelessness, particularly amongst young men. We have been amazed by the outcomes so far. We just wanted to get people playing and enjoying rugby, but the positive effects on the players confidence has led to a third of them gaining employment and two thirds moving out of the hostel. Our next step is to arrange more away trips for the teams. We took them all to Northampton last season, which for some of them was the furthest they have travelled in years.”

The work with the Worcester Warriors is only the start for the man behind the Homeless Rugby initiative, Darran Martin and Darran’s spoke about his vision for the project;

“Homeless Rugby was set up to help clubs and charities work together, using rugby to change the lives of the most vulnerable. The work from Worcester Warriors and Worcester YMCA to lead with this initial pilot has been spectacular. We hope to use the success of this as a catalyst to recruit more clubs and charities so that they can set up future Homeless Rugby teams across England, and beyond.”

The power of rugby and ability of our sport to changes lives is once again clear for us all to see, this season thee Worcester Warriors may now be in the second tier of the professional game however their community work is leading the way for all clubs and should be applauded.

By Emma Thurston, Out On The Full