MCYS is collaborating with Comic Relief and Sport Relief along with England Rugby Union to provide rugby training for young men aged between 16-17. We are currently working with Trafford Youth Justice Service, Salford Youth Offending Service and Manchester Youth Justice Services to provide rugby training for up to 40 young men over a two year period. Through the influence of rugby union's core values: teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, we will provide employability skills through personal development opportunities and rugby ready awards. In addition, mentoring can be provided via established rugby coaches. The young people will be supported to desist from offending behaviour, while developing resilience and positive identity formation to enable them to think independently. We are taking a community-based approach to tackling offending behaviour and we will offer young people the opportunity to operate within established strategic frameworks and develop key transferable skills, necessary to become positive role models within their schools, homes and communities. MMU qualified rugby coaches will facilitate the rugby activities and engage the young people ireferred by the youth offending services. The ongoing monitoring and evaluation process will allow the young people to share their experiences and provide essential feedback to the project, thereby allowing for reflective practice.

We are interested in learning how rugby union can be promoted to young people in the criminal justice system as an enjoyable and challenging sporting activity. We know from our work with youth offending agencies that rugby union is not a sport that is instantly recognised amongst our proposed population of young people. Much of the early stages of the project will be to understand how rugby union can be effectively promoted to these young people and their communities.   

The evaluation will identify whether the programme led to demonstrable effects, both intended and unintended and the wider impacts of the programme on Greater Manchester’s youth justice landscape. To ensure we take advantage of specific windows of opportunity and provide effective diversionary activities, to reduce offending and re-offending and increase well-being and employability skills, we will gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of impact. We are keen to learn from previous research and include both coaches and groups of young people in our research to demonstrate the impact of rugby on the service provider as well as the service user.  Due to the ever changing tide of youth justice, Greater Manchester will have a tried and tested model, that will inform wider impact agendas, as well as local ones. Our pre-existing partnership with the Greater Manchester Youth offending services - the Greater Manchester Youth Justice University Partnership (GMYJUP)  will enable us to influence and support the inclusion of rugby related activities in youth offending packages. Visit the GMYJUP website.

For further information contact:

Professor Hannah Smithson:


To learn more about the project from the young people and coaches, watch the video below: