The work of Premiership Rugby coaches in helping to promote the game within Brazil has been given the Royal seal of approval following a visit to the country from HRH Prince Harry.
Premiership Rugby in partnership with the British Council and SESI in Brazil have set-up an innovative rugby programme in the South American country called "Try Rugby Brazil". Working with local partners SESI-FIEMG, FIESC and FIESP across the states of Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina and São Paulo, Premiership Rugby coaches - including former Exeter Chiefs Community coach, Dom Caton - develop local capacity not only to increase participation, but also to utilise rugby's culture and core values to initiate health, education and social change.
Up and running since September 2012, part of the role carried out by Dom and his fellow coaches is supporting Brazil's efforts to develop and raise the profile of rugby in the country ahead of the sport being introduced to the Olympics for the first time in Rio in 2016.
As Dom himself points out, the main objectives of the Premiership Rugby coaches is not only to help grow the sport of rugby in Brazil in the lead up to Rio 2016, but to use rugby as a tool to support the social inclusion of 'at risk' or disadvantaged young people in Brazil and the development of valuable skills such as leadership.
At the same time the trained coaches also look to build links between the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs in the UK and SESI centres in Brazil to co-create resources and share best practice in the use of rugby for social inclusion and the development of young people.
As one of eight coaches based in the city of São Paulo, Premiership Rugby's success story has so far seen:
* Over 14,000 participants playing every week in Sao Paulo state, which has doubled the rugby playing base in Brazil
* More than 54,000 young people and adults taking coaching sessions, workshops, coach education, events and competitions
* 350 teachers and volunteer coaches now able to teach tag rugby and referee games (key to making the project sustainable)
"The project is hugely rewarding, not just for those who participate in the programme, but also for us as coaches as well," said Dom. "In Brazil a lot of sport is based predominantly around football, so it's great that we are able to introduce the people to something different in the form of rugby. With the Olympics coming to Rio in two years' time - and the fact rugby is going to be involved - there is genuine excitement about how the game can take off in the country."
And among those keen to see just what had been achieved so far from the 'Try Rugby Brazil' programme was Prince Harry, himself a keen rugby enthusiast.
Dom added: "He was very interested in the programme and asked a lot of questions regarding the work we are doing within the country. He said he could see the opportunities we were creating for people in Brazil and wished us every success for the future."