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English Rugby
RFU launch campaign to reclaim core values
September 23, 2009

The Rugby Football Union have launched a national campaign called 'This is Rugby' to promote and protect the core values of the sport.

The ground-breaking initiative, that was two years in the making, was devised to address concerns that standards of behaviour were changing as more people became involved in rugby. A task group looked at issues ranging from abusive parents on the touchline at mini-rugby to players becoming less respectful to officials and fans at elite matches growing more hostile.

English rugby's governing body published the results of their survey, which is separate from the Image of the Game task force appointed in the wake of this summer's 'Bloodgate' scandal, at Twickenham following an extensive consultation exercise at all levels of the game.

The research project produced five core values - Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship - that the RFU believe underpin the sport and recommended that their place at the heart of the game be vigorously promoted.

"These five values are what brought us into the sport and what keep us part of it. They are what rugby union has to offer and go way beyond the pitch and the clubhouse," said RFU President John Owen. "Rugby can be proud of its unique spirit, but it's important to make sure that it is protected for the future. Our next task is to share and promote them within the whole game."

Now the RFU, in partnership with Premier Rugby Limited (PRL) and the Professional Rugby Players Association (PRA), will work to promote the core values through the 'This is Rugby' campaign to everyone involved in rugby from the England team to the grassroots game. It is supported by the International Rugby Board and closely linked to the IRB Playing Charter, the expression of the sport's principles made by the game's global governing body.

"The Core Values are a key theme of our Strategic Plan, enshrined in our mission statements and codes of conduct, and it's the intention of the RFU and its partners to communicate them to the whole game," said RFU Chief Executive Francis Baron. "Our resources include a promotional film, Z cards, and printed and online materials that will reach all our 1900 member clubs and 3100 member schools, as well as a series of workshops that will run throughout the country."

Premier Rugby boss Mark McCafferty threw the weight of the Guinness Premiership behind the campaign. "The qualities engendered by the Core Values have been a key component in making the Guinness Premiership a vibrant competition, attracting a wide and growing audience that includes many women, children and families," he said. "It is the responsibility of the Guinness Premiership clubs to live up to those Core Values and we will be promoting them to our supporters at our grounds and through our award-winning community programmes."

His thoughts were echoed by PRA Chief Executive Damian Hopley who said, "As we have seen this summer there are new challenges the sport has come across. The key issue is how we react. This is a tangible investment from the Rugby Football Union and the Premiership clubs. This is a very positive step forward.

"Yes, there were some serious body blows to the game but we should not lose sight of the fact that there are some outstanding individuals playing, coaching and refereeing the game after a pretty horrific summer. The players have a burning ambition to restore the reputation of the game by adopting these core values that transcend the amateur and professional game."

The RFU proudly boasted that rugby union is the fastest growing major sport in the country (according to a recent Sport England survey) and was, "attracting more people than ever to enjoy a vibrant game as professional and amateur players, volunteers and supporters." But they acknowledged that the growth of the game brought with it new challenges with many people new to the game unaware of the, "standards that are its strengths."

These concerns led to the formation of the RFU's Core Values Task Group in 2007 to evaluate what the game stood for and what it should represent in the future. The work of this group, chaired by past RFU president Bob Rogers, uncovered many examples that demanded attention. These included parents acting and shouting aggressively towards referee and opponents; the hostile behaviour of some spectators at elite matches; and players adopting a less respectful attitude towards match officials.

The core values project is the first time a sport has set out to define its value system in formal terms and the evidence assessed included written and oral testimonies, focus groups and an online survey.

The RFU's Image of the Game task force, formed in response to the recent fake-blood and drugs-related scandals that blighted the game earlier this year, will publish their initial findings at Twickenham next week.

The 'This is Rugby' Core Values:

Teamwork: Teamwork is essential to our sport. We welcome all new team members and include all because working as a team enriches our lives. We play selflessly: working for the team, not for ourselves alone, both on and off the field. We take pride in our team, rely on one another and understand that each player has a part to play. We speak out if our team or sport is threatened by inappropriate words or actions.

Respect: Mutual respect forms the basis of our sport. We hold in high esteem our sport, its values and traditions and earn the respect of others in the way we behave. We respect our match officials and accept their decisions. We respect opposition players and supporters. We value our coaches and those who run our clubs and treat clubhouses with consideration.

Enjoyment: Enjoyment is the reason we play and support rugby union. We encourage players to enjoy training and playing. We use our sport to adopt a healthy lifestyle and build life skills. We safeguard our young players and help them have fun. We enjoy being part of a team and part of the rugby family.

Discipline: Strong discipline underpins our sport. We ensure that our sport is one of controlled physical endeavour and that we are honest and fair. We obey the laws of the game which ensure an inclusive and exciting global game. We support our disciplinary system, which protects our sport and upholds its values. We observe the sport's laws and regulations and report serious breaches.

Sportsmanship: Sportsmanship is the foundation upon which rugby union is built. We uphold the rugby tradition of camaraderie with team-mates and opponents. We observe fair play both on and off the pitch and are generous in victory and dignified in defeat. We play to win but not at all costs and recognise both endeavour and achievement. We ensure that the wellbeing and development of individual players is central to all rugby activity.

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