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Press Release | 15 Oct 2021

Rugby legends visit Westbury RFC to celebrate the return of grassroots sport as part of new initiative to boost digital capabilities and help raise much-needed funds for community rugby clubs

Rugby legends visit Westbury RFC to celebrate the return of grassroots sport as part of new initiative to boost digital capabilities and help raise much-needed funds for community rugby clubs

Rugby stars kick off the Lions Legacy Tour, bringing entertainment, investment and education to grassroots rugby clubs.

  • Rugby stars Jason Robinson, Mike Tindall and James Haskell plus England international and Loughborough Lightning player Emily Scarratt, and TV sports personality Alex Payne, to attend kick-off of Vodafone’s Lions Legacy Tour at Westbury RFC on Saturday 23 October.
  • The tour, part of the Vodafone’s Lions Legacy programme, will visit clubs across the UK and Ireland for a day of entertainment, education and fundraising and to support the return of grassroots rugby through the provision of technology and digital skills masterclasses.
  • The programme will also deliver a new online resource for all UK community rugby clubs, offering essential tips and guidance to help them develop expertise in digital marketing and social media amplification to help them become more financially sustainable following the COVID-19 pandemic.

13 October 2021, London: Vodafone, in partnership with Canterbury and the British & Irish Lions, has today announced the launch of its Lions Legacy Tour, a programme dedicated to supporting grassroots rugby clubs. The tour will help raise much-needed funds for clubs, highlight the positive impact grassroots rugby has on the local community and provide new technology solutions to aid training and match-day analysis. In addition, Vodafone is also developing a digital resource that will be available to all community rugby clubs across the UK to help them develop their digital capabilities.

The tour will kick off at Westbury RFC, Wiltshire, on Saturday 23 October, where the club will be joined by former British & Irish Lions and Bath Rugby full back, Jason Robinson, as well as current England rugby player Emily Scarratt and The Good, The Bad & The Rugby’s James Haskell, Mike Tindall and Alex Payne, as they visit Westbury to celebrate the return of community rugby.

Recognised for its community spirit and volunteer-led operations, Westbury RFC is one of four clubs, including Dungannon RFC, Aberdare RFC and Bannockburn RFC, selected for Vodafone’s Lions Legacy Tour. Vodafone, in partnership with Canterbury, will visit each club to host a fun-filled day of sport, including scheduled matches, pitch-side games and entertainment. Vodafone will provide team kit and technology solutions, including video camera equipment and MacBooks to aid training and matchday analysis, as well as social media content. The club will also receive a new till system to help it run more efficiently and other digital learning tools to help it become more financially sustainable.

To further support grassroots rugby, Vodafone is developing a resource for all community clubs across the UK and Ireland available through V-Hub, a platform to help small businesses develop their digital capabilities as they get back on their feet following the COVID-19 pandemic. Available from Spring 2022, the toolkit will offer essential tips and guidance and help clubs develop new skills and expertise within digital marketing, content strategies and social media amplification.

On the day itself, a selection of Westbury RFC volunteers will be invited to attend digital masterclasses, including a session with James Haskell on social media best practices. Sports presenter Alex Payne will also hold a separate session for Club Committee members on spotting commercial opportunities The masterclasses are designed to enhance digital education and allow the club to build a stronger online presence, driving awareness and growing its supporter base to help maintain long-term sustainability.

The day will also mark the launch of the first Westbury RFC Walking Rugby Team, with former England player James Haskell taking part in the inaugural game. Formed to encourage further diversity and inclusion amongst players and members, walking rugby is ideal for those looking to keep fit in a low intensity and low impact environment. As part of the launch, British & Irish Lions principal partner, Canterbury, will be providing kit for the team.

The club was nominated alongside Westbury resident and Club Chairman, Gareth ‘Foggy’ Vaughn for inclusion in the programme. Foggy, described as the driving force behind the club, is a much-admired member of the community. He combines a number of roles – playing everything from Coach to Kit Man, Maintenance Man to Groundsman – to ensure Westbury RFC remains a focal part of the community.

“Our volunteers have worked tirelessly to keep our beloved community rugby club afloat over the past 18 months, and this event – and everything it stands for – is exactly what we need. The day and all it encompasses will make a huge difference to our club and will no doubt leave a lasting legacy with us now and for many years to come,”  said Foggy.

Vodafone Consumer Director, Max Taylor, said: “We all know how hard local rugby clubs up and down the country have been hit by the pandemic. The Lions Legacy programme is designed to help inject some much-needed funding and support to help community rugby survive and thrive. It is a chance for Vodafone to offer a helping hand, sharing knowledge, building digital skills and, we hope, inspiring the next generation.”

James, Mike and Alex will conclude the day’s events by hosting a live podcast recording of The Good, The Bad and The Rugby inside the Westbury RFC clubhouse, guest starring Jason Robinson, Emily Scarratt and Club Chairman, Gareth ‘Foggy’ Vaughan. James Haskell will close the show with a DJ set.

Vodafone’s Lions Legacy Tour is free to attend from 10am on Saturday 23 October, with the live podcast and DJ set only available to ticket holders. For more information, visit the Westbury RFC Facebook page or other social media platforms.

– ENDS –

Notes to Editors

About Vodafone & Rugby

Vodafone was Lead Partner of the British & Irish Lions for the 2021 Tour of South Africa. United by a shared passion for connecting people – both to each other and the things they love – Vodafone and the Lions worked together to make 2021 the most connected Tour in history.

Working with Lions legends past and present, Vodafone used the latest connective technology to bring fans closer to the Tour than ever before. This included the creation of the Vodafone Digital Lions, allowing fans to ‘become a Lion’ digitally and interact with their favourite players and events, as well as the world’s first 5G autograph, using Vdoafone’s super low-latency 5G network to reward Lions superfans in the UK with an autograph from their idols in South Africa, from 8,000 miles away.

The partnership builds on Vodafone’s heritage of bringing technological advances to the rugby fan experience. In May 2019, Vodafone UK announced a two-year partnership with Wasps rugby and Wasps Netball to bring to life the benefits of 5G technology. Two months later, Vodafone worked with Wasps to create the world’s first 5G haptic rugby tackle. Using a haptic Teslasuit and the Vodafone 5G network, Wasps Rugby player Juan de Jongh was able to feel the impact of a tackle made 100 miles away by team mate Will Rowlands.

In October 2019, Vodafone trialled tech during the Wasps vs London Irish match which provided new camera angles and close-ups to get fans involved with the on-pitch play and give them “5Gamechanger seats” – the best seats in the house. Video from 360° cameras placed around the pitch – including in the players’ tunnel, dug-out and south stand – was streamed over 5G to give fans a real-time perspective on the game, getting them closer to the action than ever before.

In September 2019, Vodafone Ireland signed an extension agreement to be principal sponsor of the Irish Rugby team and communications partner to the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) until 2024. The agreement also saw Vodafone become official sponsor of the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship. The multi-year deal will see Vodafone and the IRFU work together to use both new and existing technology to create events, activations and content that will benefit all rugby fans and Vodafone customers in Ireland.

British & Irish Lions

The British & Irish Lions are one of the most famous teams in the world of rugby. Every four year, the Lions – selected from the national sides of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland – head to the southern hemisphere to do battle with rugby heavyweights New Zealand, Australia or South Africa.

Stay up-to-date with the very latest news from Vodafone by following us on Twitter and signing up for News Centre website notifications.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of June 2021, we have 5G in 364 locations across Europe – 124 in the UK and 240 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 24 UK towns and cities, rising to 34 over the coming months, through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach. By spring 2022, our target is to make full fibre services available to more than eight million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693

Email: ukmediarelations@vodafone.com

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Website: https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk

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