For the past six years we have recruited and worked with around 200 unemployed men, inviting them to build a rugby team and take part in a course that aims at improving fitness, social development and life skills with the end goal of obtaining a job. It's been a rollercoaster of emotions and worth every second.
The first round of domestic rugby's top flight Aviva Premiership is complete, and each fixture was packed with the sort of excitement and intensity only rugby can bring. I spoke to former Lions and England international Neil Back MBE on Saturday morning before the London Double Header.
For England's domestic rugby fans today is that day, rugby's Christmas Day and in a few short hours the Northampton Saints and Gloucester Rugby will kick off the 2014/15 Aviva Premiership Season.
England under Stuart Lancaster seem to be building something special (though we've been saying that for over two years now) but they haven't got a Six Nations title or currently a consistent record against the Sanzar nations. Yet they have provided moments and performances that suggest they could challenge in the long run or if the stars align next year.
As the custodians of the game, the IRB still regularly tweak laws here and there to find the optimum formula for the sport. To that end, I propose a few minor alterations for debate.
England Women came home on Monday after beating Canada 21-9 in the World Cup Final... Their victory has been hailed as a giant step forwards for women in sport, especially for women's rugby in England. Here are three lessons we can all learn from the England Women's Rugby team...
As I sat there watching the last few seconds tick ever closer to confirming England's place a-top of the Women's Rugby Union World, I asked, we aren't that bad at sport are we? ... we are actually in a golden period for British sport. If you go through the most popular sports in the UK, you will find we have world beaters everywhere, including football.
England Champions of the World, England Women World Cup Champions, England Women World Cup Winners, however you choose to phrase it, we will never tire of hearing it... this Women's Rugby World Cup catapults the sport forward in the UK and across the world and leaves a legacy that changes the Women's Rugby, for the better, forever.
It was a smashing victory for England, but the show was quickly stolen by the second semi-final of the evening, France vs Canada... Both semi-finals showcased some of the best talent in the Women's Rugby world. Here are some of my standout players from the two matches.
England's depth of talent has deepened to a point where in every position there are at least two or even three truly viable options... if England make the same amount of progression that they have done since this time last year then there is no reason why they won't head into the World Cup confident and fully ready.
I attend a weekly class at our local dancing school. The one with all the mummies in it trying to relive their youths and thinking they are cool. (We aren't, we know that, but we still have a lot of fun!) Anyway, this week the teacher was talking about her pet pugs and how if they were people they would make terrible dancers.
England have featured in 5 of the 6 tightly contested Women's Rugby World Cup finals since its inauguration in 1991, being named champions just once in 1994... England haven't had a very happy summer of sport, and England Women's Rugby stand a good chance at grasping international glory in the coming weeks.
There are rarely any dull moments; huge collisions, eye-watering feat, fierce rivalries and deft skills means that if you switch off for a second during a match you'll miss something... Rugby is a physically dangerous sport, on a weekly and even daily basis players put their bodies and indeed lives on the line.
Before the Great War, Armed Forces rugby had to fight against the success of soccer - in 1906 the Army and Navy had 758 'Association' teams. A rugby Challenge match first held in 1878 was revived in 1905, became 'Official' in 1907 and an annual fixture in 1909, endorsed by no less than Admiral Lord Jellicoe...
In the 19th century the very British game of rugby football was adopted successfully throughout her Dominions; by 1906, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were regularly beating us at our own game. In the years preceding the First World War, rugby tried to conquer territories closer to home with expeditionary forays into Continental Europe.
It has been well documented how the new competition will be formatted but to recap - there will be seven teams from the Pro12, six teams each from the Aviva Premiership and the French Top 14, with a seventh place available to one of them based on a play-off.