Youth charity The Prince's Trust and RBS - the title sponsor of the RBS 6 Nations - have launched an initiative to see the power of rugby help young people who are at risk of exclusion remain in education and gain qualifications.
The innovative scheme works with existing Prince's Trust xl clubs in schools for pupils who are at risk of truanting and under-achievement.
It applies rugby's team-based values to build skills and competencies to support young people who are struggling at school with the aim to improve their attendance, self-esteem, motivation and social skills to achieve success.
Working with the English, Welsh and Scottish rugby union governing bodies, RBS 6 Nations with The Prince's Trust will offer 14-16 year olds in schools near Twickenham, the Millennium Stadium and Murrayfield access to players and educational materials; as well as coaching from union staff on nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
It will also provide advice on associated future careers to the game and behind-the-scenes tours on match days, as well on-the-pitch involvement.
England captain Jason Robinson said: ''I know from my own experiences that rugby can benefit young people from different backgrounds in so many ways.
''It can teach important lessons in life like teamwork, communication and leadership, get them fit and healthy or keeping them out of trouble.
''It is great to see The Prince's Trust working with RBS through the RBS 6 Nations, and Home Unions to make such a huge difference to the lives of young people.''
Howard Moody, communications director of the RBS Group, said: "RBS is proud to be a long-standing supporter of The Prince's Trust.
''We are delighted that through this partnership and the RBS 6 Nations we can find new ways to motivate young people. The benefit is not only to those young people who will get back into education, employment and training, but also to the wider community and the UK economy."
Martina Milburn, chief executive at The Prince's Trust, said: "With an estimated 10,000 15-year-olds "missing" from schools and not accounted for anywhere in the system in England alone, we need to find new ways of reaching young people.
''By engaging young people through the appeal of rugby, we can inspire and motivate more to focus on their strengths and help them to start achieving their goals."
RBS 6 Nations with The Prince's Trust is part of a £5million package of support for The Trust from the RBS Group to help more young people overcome barriers and achieve success. An expansion of RBS 6 Nations' initiative is planned for 2006.
xl is a team-based Prince's Trust Programme of personal development based in schools for pupils 'at risk' of truanting and under-achievement. xl clubs operate in schools on a 'closed' two-year programme.
Members meet at least three hours a week and, guided by an xl club advisor, are encouraged to work together to achieve goals relating to their education, training and future lives.
Last year xl clubs helped more than 8,000 young people stay in school and gain qualifications.
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