Photo gallery: England women’s rugby star Rachael Burford’s inspiring visit to cadets at Diss Rugby Club

16:57 16 May 2014

England Women

England Women's rugby star, Rachael Burford visits Diss rugby club for a youth rugby event.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013

England women’s rugby union star Rachael Burford provided inspiration to cadets taking part in a touch rugby contest.

England Women's rugby star, Rachael Burford visits Diss rugby club for a youth rugby event.England Women's rugby star, Rachael Burford visits Diss rugby club for a youth rugby event.

More than 200 Suffolk and Norfolk cadets aged between 14 and 18 are currently undertaking five weeks of touch rugby training with a local club or coach.

Ms Burford was on hand to lend support and encouragement to the future sporting stars as they pitted the skills they had learned against each other at the Air Cadet Sportivate Touch Rugby Cup at Diss Rugby Club.

The 27-year-old Thurrock centre, who was the only girl to play rugby at her school and is today a rugby community coach for the Rugby Football Union (RFU), also spent time talking to the youngsters to share her experiences of playing at professional level.

“The opportunity to support such community sports programmes is a real privilege for me,” she said.

“I’m hopeful that by using my experiences in competing at elite level, I can inspire all the young people in attendance to sustain their sports participation.”

Squadron Leader Jason Allan, of Headquarters Norfolk and Suffolk Wing, said: “This project encourages some of the less sporty members of our squadrons to get involved and try something new and is an opportunity for male and female cadets to take part in sport together.

“We have seen a big uptake in full contact junior rugby this year and I firmly believe that this is the result of the touch rugby programme offered by Sportivate.”

Jonathan Pearce, rugby development officer from England Rugby, added: “This is a great opportunity to encourage cadets to get into rugby at grass roots, especially in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup in England 2015. Through the five weeks of training, the cadets and squadrons have the chance to develop relationships with the clubs and their coaches, which can hopefully help foster a long-term relationship with the sport that extends beyond the project.”

Sportivate is a £56 million National Lottery-funded Olympic and Paralympic legacy initiative that gives 11 to 25-year-olds who are not particularly sporty six to eight weeks of free or heavily subsidised coaching in a new sport and then helps them to find local opportunities to continue participating.

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