Darlington FacebookWith Women’s Rugby Sevens set to make its Olympic Games debut in Rio in August, England Rugby is encouraging women and girls in Darlington to give rugby a try next week.

England Rugby hero, TV personality and Spirit of Rugby ambassador Maggie Alphonsi will be on hand to showcase the best in rugby in Darlington Town Centre, the Market Square, on July 23, 11-4pm as part of Darlington’s Spirit of Rugby project. Click HERE to watch a short video overview of the Spirit of Rugby.

Alphonsi, a Rugby World Cup winner who also played Sevens for England and is now a TV commentator, will be encouraging women and girls from the area to “Play to their Strengths’ and pick up a rugby ball. Shoppers will be able to test out their skills in the inflatable passing cage, take on the throwing tower, have a go in the kicking cage or even try out the gauntlet run.

Alphonsi, who will be keenly watching Team GB as they make their Olympic debut on August 6, said: “This is such an exciting time for women’s rugby, particularly for this area. The North East has a fantastic Sevens player in Katy Mclean, who will be hoping to shine at the Olympics, England are the reigning World Champions and the Game is enjoying unprecedented growth with 24,000 women and girls playing.

“Play to Your Strengths’ is a fantastic Spirit of Rugby initiative and women’s rugby is a game like no other. It’s a sport for the many, not the few. If you’re looking for something different, something you haven’t done before and you want a new challenge, then try rugby.  Whether you’re tall or small, fast or powerful, tactical or combative, you’ll be amazed to see what you can achieve on the pitch, and I’m going to be on hand to give you some tips on July 23!”

The ‘Play to your Strengths’ programme in Darlington is part of England Rugby’s nationwide Spirit of Rugby project. Funded by the Spirit of 2012, it aims to ensure the spirit that radiated from London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics is felt across the UK. The project is uniquely led and devised by 16-24 year-olds with the aim of increasing participation through new and innovative events which engage groups not traditionally involved in rugby.

In Darlington, the Spirit of Rugby group has been focusing on increasing rugby participation in a football dominated area by showing that women and girls can be both feminine and play rugby through ‘Scrum Down, Scrub Up’. The group have held popular rugby master classes, followed by beauty sessions.

For more information about women’s rugby and how to get involved, visit: http://findrugby.com/

For more information on Spirit of Rugby projects taking place across England, go to http://Englandrugby.com/spiritofrugby