01/10/2015 13:00 BST | Updated 01/10/2016 06:12 BST

Rugby World Cup: The Importance of Leaving a Legacy

This is such a significant year in the history of the game in England and it's an exciting opportunity for the RFU to raise the profile of rugby, in particular club rugby, across the country.

We want rugby to be among England's strongest sports, with clubs thriving and participation at an all-time high, to create a lasting legacy for generations to come.

We have spent the last three years putting clear foundations in place to make the most of this opportunity.

Our legacy plans aim to ensure that new people are brought into the game, those that have left it are inspired to return, and those involved enjoy the best possible experience of rugby.

We want to use the six weeks of the Rugby World Cup to inspire people and to give them the opportunity to get involved in rugby and to enjoy a game that has so many benefits, both on and off the field. We will then push on over the next four years as we move towards the Rugby World Cup in 2019 to ensure that interest is sustained and that we keep people involved.

We launched a strategy back in October 2012 that encompasses everything from pitch improvements to assisting with social spaces in rugby clubs with over £25million of RFU funding committed to-date to creating a legacy- taking advantage of the huge interest in the tournament.

There are now more schools playing rugby across the UK than ever before, more coaches in rugby clubs and the RFU has also been improving the facilities at grassroots level.

The RFU has trained 2,015 new level two coaches via the QBE Coaching Club; trained and brought on board 1,200 young rugby ambassadors - these are 16-20 year-olds that are now playing an active role in their clubs and have launched a campaign called 'Keep Your Boots On'.

A programme called 'All Schools', supported by CBRE, has been introduced into 400 state secondary schools that didn't previously play rugby, while 275 O2 Touch centres have been introduced around the country, with 11,000 players now registered.

We want rugby clubs to remain an integral part of their local communities and improving their facilities and pitches is one way of achieving that aim. Over four years we've invested £10million in helping more than 520 clubs with projects to improve their facilities and this year we've helped them to improve their social spaces to encourage greater community use and to help attract new members.

Our aim is also to give as many young people as possible the chance to enjoy all the game has to offer and our All Schools programme is a key element in achieving that.

We made a commitment to take rugby into 750 non-rugby playing state secondary schools by 2019, and we have already reached our milestone of 400 schools by the start of this World Cup.

To have achieved this really is testament to all the hard work and commitment put in by so many across the country. We are determined to keep the momentum going as we expand the programme further over the next four years.

While there is a place for everyone in the rugby family regardless of age, size, ability or background - for the legacy of the game to live on it's important that we continue to focus on important grassroots initiatives like O2 Touch.

O2 Touch provides an entry point to the sport, no matter what your ability and we're aiming to inspire even more people to start playing beyond 2015.

So if you've drifted away from the sport we'd love to have back. And if you've never played before then we love you to come and give it a try. You'll have experiences and friends that will last a lifetime.

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