The Toronto Inner-City Rugby Foundation aims to build community through rugby and rugby through community. They are committed to seeing the growth of the game at all youth levels. During their 2013 strategic planning meeting with stakeholders from all nine clubs in Toronto, TIRF identified a lack of programs, infrastructure, and resources when it comes to rugby for children aged 6-12. TIRF was tasked with establishing minor rugby in Toronto by developing resources, strengthening infrastructure, and initiating programs. More than that, however, TIRF took it upon itself to create a market for rugby in Toronto by engaging key non-rugby partners and providing them with the necessary tools to run rugby programs.
During the summer of 2014, TIRF, along with club partners piloted a youth rugby program. The goal of this program was to introduce rugby to as many kids as possible through avenues such as schools, community groups/centres, and provide them with an opportunity to continue participating at the club. TIRF hired eight Youth Rugby Development Interns and dispatched them across the city with great results. In total, TIRF provided introductory rugby programs to over 3,500 students!
The initial CRF funding has helped them reach several community groups in a meaningful way (beyond introduction) and they are currently working with those community groups to plan summer programming. Additional funding allows them to create community based house-leagues and/or drop-in sessions that would promote the sustainable development of the game making their introductory programs sustainable.
Through this CRF grant, they will continue targeting communities that are new to rugby and provide them with an opportunity to try the sport and stay. The main goal is to broaden the pyramid of play at the bottom helping to ultimately grow the game in the long term. The project will not only introduce rugby but it will allow TIRF to help build the infrastructure to handle the growth.