June 22 - Mayor of London Boris Johnson and England Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood have joined forces to launch O2 Touch, a Rugby Football Union (RFU) initiative that aims to get England playing touch rugby this summer.
With the Rugby World Cup 2011 taking place in New Zealand this September the level of interest in rugby is due to increase over the coming months and O2 Touch is encouraging everyone to get active, play touch and have fun with a rugby ball this summer.
Speaking at last Friday's launch outside City Hall, Johnson said: "Rugby doesn't need to be a full contact sport and the O2 Touch programme enables everyone, young or old, male or female, to have a go, get fit and have fun.
"I'm a big fan of rugby and fully support this new initiative to get people more active.
"That is why I am also announcing today that I am providing funding of £115,000 to help complement the scheme in London.
"With England hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2015 I want everyone to get behind the sport and give it a try."
Greenwood, England's second highest try scorer of all time, added: "There is so much high quality rugby coming up over the next four years and it is a great time to be involved with, and playing the sport.
"Touch rugby is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game, it is so easy to pick up and no matter what age you are or which part of the country you are from, it is a great way to have fun whilst playing rugby."
England players Simon Shaw, Riki Flutey and Maggie Alphonsi participated in a touch rugby workshop at the launch to demonstrate just how enjoyable the sport is.
The simplicity of the rules allows players to self-referee matches and play pretty much anywhere with teammates, family or friends.
To bring touch rugby to life, RFU affiliated clubs across England will be running weekly touch rugby sessions throughout the summer, with everyone being invited to come along to local rugby clubs, try it out and see how accessible and welcoming their local club is.
O2 Touch is the first initiative to be rolled out to support the RFU's Choose Rugby campaign which aims to increase participation in the sport ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2015.
To encourage players to participate in the O2 Touch programme, the RFU is running an online competition with winners having the chance to play at Twickenham.
For a chance to win touch rugby players will be encouraged to go along to their club and film themselves in action to demonstrate how easy and inclusive it is to have a go.
The RFU has produced its own video at Twickenham to get the creative juices flowing and to inspire potential players to get involved.
To increase the intensity of the competition, entrants will be asked to pledge their allegiance to the North or South, depending on where their club is based.
To be in with a chance of representing the North or the South at Twickenham teams can upload their film here.
An RFU committee will select the top five films from the North and the South, with the winning teams getting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at Twickenham.
To find out more about O2 Touch and the competition, click here or to find out more about Choose Rugby, click here.
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