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BREAKING NEWS : London Welsh Women & Inspiring Girls form exciting partnership

By Alice Gayner

London Welsh announce charity partnership to inspire more women & girls to play rugby

London Welsh Women’s rugby team today announce an exciting new sponsorship with global charity 'Inspiring Girls', as part of a two-year plan to attract new players to the club.

Two days before the 2018 six nations tournament, London Welsh Women has announced a groundbreaking partnership with global charity Inspiring Girls to attract more women and girls to play rugby. By joining forces, the organisations hope to break down existing gender stereotypes around women in sport, and encourage young girls to consider playing rugby – either professionally or for fun.

As a charity, 'Inspiring Girls' is dedicated to raising aspirations by connecting girls (aged 10-15) with female role models. The charity inspires them to aim high and work hard, supporting them to make choices free from any stereotypes. Recent surveys in the UK show that by the age of six years old, children start looking at jobs as female and male and by 13 they have already discarded some jobs based on gender stereotypes – this is particularly common in sport.

Inspire Girls Charity website

The partnership is the brainchild of London Welsh supporter Sarah Johnson. Johnson, CEO of PR company LOTUS paid for the sponsorship – which includes new shirts for the players with Inspiring Girls branding on, kindly donated by Rhino. The sponsorship will run for the rest of this season and all next season; during this time interviews with the women’s team will feature on the Inspiring Girls website, as one of the many resources designed to engage and inspire girls. A special limited number of shirts will be available to buy in the 2018/19 season.

Members of London Welsh women's team seen here with charity patron Miriam González Durántez

Formed in 1885, London Welsh is an amateur rugby union club based in Richmond, Surrey. Last season the club went from playing in the Premiership to the bottom of the lowest league. However, last autumn the club started the season with a new coach Sonny Parker and a determination to succeed. Parker is hoping the women’s team – which consists of players from a range of careers including a policewoman, teacher, accountant, NHS project manager, lawyer, physiotherapist, financial analyst – will finish the season at the top.

Inspiring Girls Founder, Miriam González Durántez, said: “This is not just a network of sportswomen but a group of highly inspiring role models. They are a fantastic example for girls worldwide: in addition to their impressive career paths, they are all committed to sport as a way to improve personal performance; and their team skills are a key factor to their success on and off the pitch. This is a terrific partnership and we are delighted to have LOTUS supporting Inspiring Girls.”

Telling her own story, Captain Zoe Jeanes explained “I never really enjoyed sport at school. Then I was introduced to rugby by a friend and felt I had come home. Fitness, strength, team work and a huge laugh, it is the best thing that happened to me. Tall, short, fast, not so fast, whatever your build, there is a home for you in rugby.”

In 2016 the England RFU committed to raise the number of women who play rugby to 50,000 by 2019. London Welsh is keen to be at the forefront of this recruitment drive and hopes the collaboration with Inspiring Girls will help draw attention not only to the charity’s overarching mission but to also encourage women and girls to consider rugby as their sport of choice. As part of the recruitment drive the club will be holding an Inner Warrior events for women to try rugby.

London Welsh Director of Rugby Sonny Parker concluded: “London Welsh Women have had a tremendous season. Everyone in the club and our sponsors Chestertons are proud of their achievements and support their initiatives to encourage more women to join the sport and to join London Welsh.”

LOTUS has also committed to raising additional funds over the period of the sponsorship. Funds raised will be used to further Inspiring Girls’ expansion plans – the charity currently operates in Spain, Serbia, Italy, Chile and Brazil, with many more countries wanting to join the campaign.

London Welsh Women will be holding an Inner Warrior session on 21st February at 7.30pm, supported by the RFU. Open to all women, the session at London Welsh RFC will give players a taster of rugby. Anyone interested can come along or get in touch with the club for more info.

Updated 10:30 - 7 Feb 2018 by Bryn Walters

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