Kicking Bullying into touch with Childline and Premier league rugby. Richard Hill of Saracens
and England's rugby world cup winning squad feature with Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker
and Chris cloke from NSPCC.
The former Saracens, England, and British and Irish Lions star was there to run one of the Guinness Premiership club's 'Kicking Bullying into Touch' programmes for school children aged between six and 11 years.

'Kicking Bullying into Touch' is a programme created by the 12 Guinness Premiership rugby clubs and ChildLine. The programme uses the appeal of some of rugby's most well known players to talk to children aged between six and 11 years about bullying.

Richard's visit to Field Junior School marked the start of the second year of the programme, with over 17,000 children having taken part in the programme in the first year.

Each one of the 12 Guinness Premiership clubs nominates a dedicated anti-bullying ambassador, with players like Saracens and England captain Steve Borthwick, Sale Sharks' Andrew Sheridan, London Wasps' Paul Sackey and Harlequins' Ugo Monye taking part.

The ambassadors from all 12 clubs are featured in a DVD and a z-card distributed to the children as part of the programme, which is then delivered in schools by club players. A survey of children who had taken part in the programme showed over 97% of children had a better understanding of the different forms of bullying.

The link with rugby has been a valuable one, with the programme particularly targeted at young boys, a group that often struggles to talk about bullying.

Saracens' Foundation Director Richard Hill said, "I am really pleased to be at Field Junior School to start the second year of the 'Kicking Bullying into Touch' programme.

"The partnership has been a hugely successful one across the Premiership, with the programme delivered in 360 schools in the first year of the programme and 420 targeted for this second year. For our part, I am proud to say that Saracens will be delivering the programme in 30 schools in our area.

"The figures from a survey we did reveal that 97% of the children who have been through the programme have a better understanding of the different forms of bullying, showing that the clubs and players have made a real difference. We're all really proud of that across the league."

NSPCC head of child protection awareness Chris Cloke said: "Bullying is still the number one problem that children call ChildLine about, accounting for 17 per cent of all children counselled by the helpline last year. That's why innovative schemes like 'Kicking Bullying into Touch' are so important to help reinforce the message that bullying is wrong."

The partnership between the Guinness Premiership clubs and ChildLine was launched at the start of national Anti-Bullying Week last year and marked the beginning of a wider awareness-raising and fundraising partnership between the two parties.

As part of the programme, the Guinness Premiership dedicates a round of matches to ChildLine in April to raise awareness and funds for ChildLine.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said, "Bullying, in any form, should not be tolerated - it can destroy lives and have a lasting impact on young people's confidence, self-esteem and emotional development. At the start of this year's Anti-Bullying Week, I'm delighted to be able to support the NSPCC and Premier Rugby as they continue the successful programme 'Kicking Bullying into Touch'. Now in its second year, they are doing fantastic work reaching out to primary school children through sport, to help raise awareness and tackle the problem of bullying."