The Scarlets will further a community rugby initiative into the 2012/13 season offering grass roots rugby open access to home games at Parc y Scarlets for young players to see their heroes in action and inspire the next rugby generation.
The initiative will see all young players in junior rugby clubs across Wales, as well as referees and their coaches and team managers, given free access to Parc y Scarlets home games.
It will become part of the Scarlets’ new season ‘Invest in Rugby’ campaign, and gives an open door policy at Parc y Scarlets to thousands of young rugby players aged from seven up to 16 years-old free access to watch the likes of internationals George North, Rhys Priestland, Jon Davies, Scott Williams, Ken Owens, Matthew Rees, Morgan Stoddart and Liam Williams in action.
The community rugby initiative, a first in Welsh rugby, has proved so popular and successful with more than the region as it enters its third year, that the Scarlets will continue it into 2012/13 season as part of their support and respect of the work undertaken by Welsh rugby’s unsung heroes.
More than 3,000 registered players, qualified junior coaches and referees took up the initiative last season and that figure is expected to double in the new 2012/13 season. That’s more than 200 fifteen-a-side teams that have benefited from the initiative in one season.
Chief Executive of the Scarlets Mark Davies said: “We recognise that junior clubs are the lifeblood of our game. Our continued strategy to develop young home grown talent, depends on the valued support we have from our junior rugby communities, inspiring young players to play and attend rugby across our regions.
“We want to reward and support the excellent work done within mini and junior sections and help inspire the next generation in rugby. This is part of an initiative to reinforce our commitment to our relationship with our clubs at heart and soul rugby country.
“Offering referees and junior clubs the freedom of Parc y Scarlets is our way of recognising the loyalty and passion that exists within the junior game in Wales and to thank our clubs for their support. A lot of time and effort is given freely by those running the junior game in Wales and we want to celebrate that contribution.
“Our junior coaches who initially develop all our young rugby talent are crucial to Scarlets and Welsh rugby and we are poignantly reminded of that after the loss of Dan Newton’s father last week who was Jon Davies’ junior coach aged eight at Whitland RFC.”
The Scarlets’ Chief Executive said it was crucial to support the unsung heroes of the game as a key to the future in Welsh rugby success.
He said: “Our focus on the development of Welsh talent from within is core to our future and as part of that we want to open our doors to the many unsung heroes of rugby development, those who support and inspire our young rugby players of the future.
“We’ve also opened this out to all registered referees in Wales as a mark of respect for the difficult and challenging work that they do week-in-week out. They are a vital part of the fabric of Welsh rugby; games cannot take place without referees and it’s a very demanding, sometimes unforgiving role and we need more people to support junior rugby by becoming referees.”
“Rugby in Wales is more than just a sport performing at an elite level – it is also about a passion and set of values that are the fabric of the game and should be instilled from an early age for those young players enjoying and expressing themselves on the field.”
Mark Davies says the Scarlets aim is to open out its venue facilities including expanding the success of its indoor arena at Parc y Scarlets to host events on matchdays and beyond.
“We are very fortunate have all our rugby and match day entertainment facilities on site at Parc y Scarlets with our Indoor Supporters Village now established as the biggest and most popular club house in European rugby with family entertainment and pre match and half time rugby for junior teams, mini rugby skills.
“We have also hosted a number of junior rugby tournaments and festivals on our second field in the lead-up to big home games which has proved very popular and we will be organising more of those next season.”