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Situation Analysis


									Running head: LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                           1

                                 Let’s Get Ready to Rugby!:

                               A Public Relations Event for the

                               Mobile Area Rugby Foundation

                                          Caitlin Teahan

                                     Spring Hill College
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!              2

Table of Contents

Abstract                          3

Situation Analysis                4

Correlating Research              8

Project Description/Development   23

Methodology                       24

Goals                             26

Target Audience                   26

Objectives                        27

Strategies                        28

Tactics                           29

Materials                         29

Evaluation                        30

Reflection                        31

References                        36

Appendices                        39
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                        3


       Since the late 90s a number of camps and after-school programs for at-risk youth have

begun to center around sports as their medium of betterment. A one-day event, ‘Ready for

Rugby!’ was created to promote the benefits associated with youth sports. The success rates of

programs such as Harlem RBI and Tenacity are increasing and served as condensed models for

the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation’s ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event. The event took place at Spring

Hill College in conjunction with the at-risk youth members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South

Alabama on February 5, 2011. The Mobile Area Rugby Foundation aimed to increase the

children’s interest in a new sport that would provide them with physical, sociological and

psychological benefits. Studies show that sports make up the largest group of after school

activities available for youth. It has been reported that organized sports have become a

gateway to academic achievement and increase chances of attending college. Youth that

participate in organized sports are less likely to drop out of school and connect with their peers

(Rosewater, 2009). After the event, two of the three clubs that attended began to discuss the

implementation of a rugby program per the children’s request. Multiple forms of local media

and outlets related to Spring Hill College covered the event. Not only do programs and

condensed versions of programs into event form similar to ‘Ready for Rugby!’ pave the way for

new sports, in this case rugby, but research also argues the monumental and shared benefits of

successful sports programs for at-risk youth. The evaluation of such an event took place

through the measurement of: participant response, media coverage and written contact

between the two non-profit organizations involved.

 Keywords: Organized sports, rugby, youth, at-risk, low-income, development
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                            4

   Let’s Get Ready to Rugby!: A Public Relations Event for the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation

Situation Analysis

       Rugby is a unique sport that has evolved over centuries. Modern rugby originated in

England at the Rugby School. It is said to be founded by a then student, 16-year-old William

Webb Ellis. The sport stemmed from soccer, which was very popular in English schools during

the early 1800s. Legend says that Ellis was playing soccer and with little “disregard for the rules,

picked up the ball and ran with it” (“General history of,” 2010, 1). Currently, rugby is played in

more than 103 countries and a shortened, fast-paced version of the game was added to the

2016 summer Olympics (Corley, 2010).

       The Mobile Area Rugby Foundation is a non-profit organization that was created in

October 2010. The foundation is an organization whose goal is to encourage organized sports,

namely rugby, for the adults and youth in the greater Mobile, Alabama area. The organization

strives to bring the community and children together in a beneficial way through non-contact

and contact versions of the sport (Corley, 2010). Following rugby’s governing body, USA Rugby

and its youth programs; the foundation works in an effort to promote the sport’s “positive

attributes including physical fitness, camaraderie and sportsmanship” (Corley, 2010, 1). The

‘Ready for Rugby!’ event was the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation’s seminal event.

       The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama is a chapter of the national organization that

has been in existence since 1900. The club’s mission is to “enable all young people, especially

those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens”

(Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama, 2010). The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama offer

different types of recreation, educational and tutoring opportunities as well as programs that
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                        5

encourage interest in leadership, the arts and health (Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama,

2010). The different successes of youth members, as well as programs offered by the Boys &

Girls Clubs of America, are shown in their Winter 2009/10 and Winter 2010/11 Connections

magazines (Appendix T).

       The ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event, sponsored by the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation in

conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama, was held on the Spring Hill College

campus on February 5, 2011 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Boys & Girls Clubs of South

Alabama voluntarily gathered 26 members of middle school age to participate in the event. The

event was offered free of charge to participants and allowed for them to learn how to play non-

contact rugby from certified coaches and referees of the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. This

was the first event for the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation and the first rugby related event for

the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama. The event brought together two non-profit

organizations and Spring Hill College in such a way that exemplifies the bonds between the

community and the school. The child participants consisted of members of the Boys & Girls

Clubs of South Alabama that are classified as at-risk and low-income youth due to the location

of their residences and families’ financial status.

       The need for such an event may be seen in the lack of rugby programs available to the

residents of Mobile, Alabama. The community needs a foundation like the Mobile Area Rugby

Foundation to promote recreation and sportsmanship for at-risk children through rugby. No

similar program or organization in the surrounding areas promotes contact or non-contact

rugby for at-risk youth. Low-income living may limit a child’s education and recreational

opportunities. These children should be given a chance to express themselves recreationally,
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                           6

experience new sports and develop relationships with peers and authority figures. The youth

that attended the event are members of Boys & Girls Clubs that have a minimum of 30 percent

of participants that are on free or reduced lunch and/or are from single parent homes. The

maximum was 100 percent of any given club’s participants are on free or reduced lunch and 98

percent are from single parent homes (Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama, 2009). Childhood

obesity rates are increasing according to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2010 statistics, thus

strengthening the need for physical activity and recreation (CDC, 2010). The event offered all of

the abovementioned experiences as well as promoted physical activity to the youth in


        There were three dominant strengths presented by the development and completion of

this project. The first strength was the media coverage of the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event and

Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. This seminal event provided the foundation with an

opportunity to showcase the values and talents of members while taking part in a successful,

newsworthy event. The second strength involved the benefits received by both the Mobile Area

Rugby Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama. The Mobile Area Rugby

Foundation had the opportunity to work with a well-known, established non-profit organization

that has multiple clubs in the greater Mobile, Alabama area. The Boys & Girls Clubs of South

Alabama were able to open their youth members to a new sport and visit a college campus. The

third strength stems from the experience of visiting the Spring Hill College campus. Allowing the

youth members to visit the campus portrays a positive mental picture of college and its

LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                          7

       The available opportunities overlap with the strengths and consist of community

enhancing activities. The ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event exposed the residents of the Mobile area to

unique sport and youth program. It also allowed residents to be made aware of a new non-

profit organization that aims to focus on and aid those in the greater Mobile area.

       Child participants may be viewed as a strength, opportunity and weakness. As a

strength, allowing the youth to participate permitted the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation and its

members to directly connect with and affect the lives of at-risk youth. The main focus of the

event was the youth in attendance. This afforded those who participated many opportunities

that involve learning a new sport, working with peers and authority figures and functioning in a

new setting. Allowing children to participate in a physical event can be portrayed as a

weakness. Liability is a huge issue when involving those who are underage, especially when

playing a sport without parental supervision. These legal and ethical issues were successfully

addressed when considering this weakness.

       Two other weaknesses were present during the creation of the ‘Ready for Rugby!’

event. The first stemmed from the lack of a seminar partner. The event workload and

development merited the aid, ideas and constructive criticism of a colleague. The second

weakness involved the lack of formal, signed contracts with sponsors that should have been

created as opposed to verbal commitments and handshakes.

       The first of the two threats to the success of the event involved miscommunication

among the employees of the public safety department of Spring Hill College and the members

of the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. It is further explained in the ‘Reflection’ portion of this

report. The second threat posed to the event was the assurance of every child participant’s
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                          8

physical safety. To enhance safety, non-contact rugby was employed as opposed to a contact

form of the sport. Insurance provided by the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama along with

permission slips from both the clubs and Spring Hill College exercised safety measures

(Appendices U and S).

Correlating Research

       Extensive secondary research was conducted in order to provide and support a rationale

for developing the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event. Beyond personal reasons for desiring to offer a

rugby related event for the youth, information gathered by researcher Ann Rosewater shows

that “sports make up the largest category of after-school activities available for youth and

children” (Rosewater, 2009, 1). The availability of such programs allows for a large impact to be

made on children through this medium. According to Rosewater, “What happens in the context

of sports matters—it may affect how and what children learn, how they interact with others

(adults and peers) and who those others are, and their capacity to regulate their emotional and

physical development over time” (Rosewater, 2009, 1).

       Through research and studies conducted by Rosewater, it has been discovered that

youth who participate in organized athletics have higher grades and are less likely to drop out.

In this study, the benefits of organized sports are not gender specific and have shown positive

effects on both boys and girls. Besides increasing achievement benefits in the academic arena,

organized sports have contributed “significantly to youth identity” and allowed children to

“connect with a more positive peer network” (Rosewater, 2009, 2). Rosewater’s most crucial

and applicable finding relates to a group labeled “children who are on the margin” (Rosewater,

2009, 2). This group is composed of children who may be classified as “poor, learning disabled,
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                            9

obese, gay,” etc. (Rosewater, 2009, 2). After establishing that such a group exists in general

society, research suggested, “the effects of participating in organized sports are as good or

better for children from low-income families as for children from families with more income”

(Rosewater, 2009, 2). Providing low-income children with such an opportunity may be

treasured and not taken for granted. In modern day society, children who are part of more

affluent families are more likely to take part in such activities than those from low-income

families. On average boys are presented more opportunities to take part in sports. However,

participation in organized sports was “correlated with improved grades or test scores among

African-American and Latino students” (Rosewater, 2009, 2).

       Researchers Miriam Linver, Jodie Roth and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn established “one

influential taxonomy, termed the 5 Cs” (Linver et al., 2009, 2). The 5 Cs were used to categorize

their findings relating to positive development in children and the correlating organized

activities. The 5 Cs stands for: “competence in academic, social, and vocational areas;

confidence or a positive self-identity; connections to community, family, and peers; character

or positive values, integrity, and moral commitment; and caring and compassion” (Linver et al.,

2009, 2). Unlike research done by Rosewater, Linver et al., performed a study that assessed the

benefits of organized activities, sports included, against watching television or spending leisure

time with peers. In comparison, participation in organized after-school activities provided youth

with chances to develop the 5 Cs by providing an ideal setting catered to safe and appropriate

development. Although sports are included in the organized activities category, when

addressed separately, it was discovered that “higher rates of experiences for the development

of initiative, emotional regulation, and teamwork- social skills” exist and girls reported a “higher
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                          10

proportion of academically oriented friends” (Linver et al., 2009, 3). Although studies have

found that participants in organized sports may have experienced higher levels of stress and

other negative factors, those who participated in high school sports excelled in “academic

competence, personal confidence, connections with school, peers, family, character and caring

when compared with their peers who do not participate in sports” (Linver et al., 2009, 3). It is

suggested that the benefits of participation in organized sports may be substituted with

involvement in other after-school activities and be equally positive. Research shows that

confidence is a unique advantage provided by sports (Linver et al., 2009).

       Linver, Roth and Brooks-Gunn exposed that race, activity preference or socioeconomic

status could not be considered defining factors. Instead, “the majority of differences occur

between youth involved in multiple activities and the uninvolved youth” (Linver et al., 2009, 6).

The Mobile Area Rugby Foundation, in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs of South

Alabama provided the youth who attended the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event with a sports related

outlet and the abovementioned benefits which are listed in the ‘Situational Analysis’ portion of

this report. Those who participate in sports and other after-school activities are categorized

into the “sports-plus cluster” (Linver et al., 2009, 7). Youth that qualify as members of the

sports-plus cluster during the 11th grade of high school were 3.1 times more likely to attend

college and better demonstrated the 5 Cs when compared to the sports-only cluster. The youth

part of the sports-only cluster fared better when developing the 5 Cs than those with low levels

of general involvement. In general the high school aged sports-plus cluster fared better than

the sports only cluster with three exceptions: “There were no statistical differences between
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                          11

the two groups in talking with parents, nor any statistical differences in pro-social behaviors,

and youth in the sports-plus cluster exhibited more drinking” (Linver et al., 2009, 17).

       This study differs from the more diverse research conducted by Rosewater as average

family income was over $65,000 and 50% of the youth participants were Caucasian (Linver et

al., 2009). Therefore this study applies, on average, to those not considered part of the low-

income bracket. This shows that the powerful benefits of sports do exceed socioeconomic

boundaries by applying to youth from families of all incomes. The study concluded and was

consistent with prior research that exhibited “the benefits of sports participation over no

activity participation for positive youth development” and participation in sports as well as

other organized activities increased benefits and improved outcomes (Linver et al., 2009, 20).

       Researcher Christina Theokas defined the beneficial nature of sports and further

supported the Linver et al., findings. Theokas stated, “sport is commonly considered a medium

or tool through which other life skills are taught, including, but not limited to persistence,

teamwork, leadership, and character development” (Theokas, 2009, 2). She also clearly states

that due to unique experiences, sports may not be considered a “monolithic entity” (Theokas,

2009, 3). This finding not only echoes Linver et al., but also further supports Rosewater’s

research. She continues on to define the role of an instructor in such a medium, “someone

skilled in the sport who is “in charge” and responsible for management of the game and

players, creating a natural mentor relationship within the structure of the activity” (Theokas,

2009, 2). This statement accurately describes the certified coaches that led the children’s

activities during the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event. The coaches maintained an authoritative yet
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                         12

mentor-like stance with the youth by directing drills and play while creating a social interest

and interaction among peers and authority figures.

       In research conducted by voluntary participants, Theokas discovered that the

commitment needed from a participant to play an organized sport “contributes to higher levels

of motivation, initiative, and cognitive engagement” (Theokas, 2009, 2). Theokas further

reiterated Linver, Roth and Brooks-Gunn’s findings when she revealed the sports-plus cluster

“had the most positive outcomes, although participating only in sport yielded more positive

outcomes than did an absence of activity involvement” (Theokas, 2009, 4). Theokas concluded

that youth participation coupled with other programs would ultimately service the participant

best (2009). This also confirms the necessity and rationale for the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event in

conjunction with the programs established for the youth members by the Boys & Girls Clubs of

South Alabama.

       The previous statements were further supported through studies conducted by

researchers Patricia Harrison and Gopalakrishnan Narayan (2003). They established that

although other organized activities benefited adolescents, those who participated in sports

were more likely to consume fruits and vegetables, thereby improving overall physical health,

and tended to have fewer mental and general health issues. The teamwork aspect of organized

sports may categorize sports in general as a pro-social activity. It was discovered by the

National Survey of Household Drug Abuse that adolescents who were part of pro-social

activities were less involved in problem drinking and were not as likely to become involved in

such behavior in the future. They also were reported to have lesser levels of marijuana use. This

study also confirmed that those who participated in sports were less likely to exhibit suicidal
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                        13

behavior, “female sports participants were less likely to have had sexual intercourse, and male

sports participants were less likely to report carrying a weapon” (Harrison & Narayan, 2003, 3).

       Sports exposure to non-white youth participants is essential. According to the studies

conducted by Harrison and Narayan, analyses showed that Caucasian students were more likely

to be involved in what would be considered a sports-plus category. In concurrence with

previously mentioned studies, Harrison and Narayan found that those who did not participate

in any form of structured activity produced the least desirable results (Harrison & Narayan,

2003). These studies continue to support the involvement of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South

Alabama in conjunction with the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. The majority of the clubs in

attendance were predominantly African-American as were the youth participants. By providing

such opportunities and events like ‘Ready for Rugby!’ to those not of Caucasian decent, an

opportunity was given to increase percentages relating to sports participation. Around 60

percent of adolescents are involved in team sports in the United States (Harrison & Narayan,

2003). However, those from single-parent homes were not as likely to be involved in such

activities. The majority of youth members who attended were from clubs with a high

percentage of single-parent homes. Thus, the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event afforded them a

different type of experience. The aforementioned studies were ‘limited’ in that they consisted

of adolescents participating in public school programs. This confirms and applies to the

particular group of youth that attended the event considering they were all part of the public

school system in the greater Mobile, Alabama area.

       Researchers Michael Busseri and Linda Rose-Krasnor propose a parallel discovery to

those found by the aforesaid authors (2009). Instead of comparing a sports-plus and sports only
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                           14

cluster and listing positive and negative attributes of each, Busseri and Rose-Krasnor focus on

the “breadth and intensity of involvement” and the link to positive development (Busseri &

Rose-Krasnor, 2009, 907). They begin by explaining the perspective used during the

assessment. It begins with the “positive youth development” (PYD) perspective which

emphasized that the youth are “a resource to be fostered, rather than as a problem to be

solved” (Busseri & Rose-Krasnor, 2009, 908). The abovementioned 5 Cs are major components

of the PYD perspective and tie together to identify extracurricular activity as a crucial element

among youth. Besides reiterating the benefits of structured activities discussed by previous

authors, it is recorded by Busseri and Rose-Krasnor that these activities “reduced problem

behavior in domains such as substance use and school drop-out” (Busseri & Rose-Krasnor,

2009, 909). These structured activities may expose youth to different and unfamiliar

experiences, people and ideas that can then encourage identity formation. The identity

formation promoted by these structured activities encourage a sense of belonging and become

“contexts for discovering ‘someone to be’ as opposed to simply finding ‘something to do’”

(Busseri & Rose-Krasnor, 2009, 909).

       According to Busseri and Rose-Krasnor, breadth is equivalent to the amount of activities

in which a specific youth is involved and intensity refers to the regularity at which the

involvement occurs. Identity is further developed in relation to breadth and intensity through a

“progression from substantial and meaningful exploration of alternatives to commitment-

making [that] marks a mature, or ‘achieved’, identity status” (Busseri & Rose-Krasnor, 2009,

911). Such a status is deemed essential as it “provides the strongest foundation for intra-

personal competence, healthy interpersonal relationships, and productive functioning in
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                          15

society” (Busseri & Rose-Krasnor, 2009, 911). This reaffirms the confidence experienced and

positively developed relationships with peers and authority figures presented by earlier

mentioned researchers. Breadth of activity involvement is most likely to be fostered in

adolescence when the youth are most likely to be exploring their own identity and begin

commitment-making processes. In order for youth participants to maximize their performance

while working within a structured activity, they must commit to and sustain activity. It is

explained that, “greater time spent in an activity setting may help youth become more attuned

to what the setting affords” (Busseri & Rose-Krasnor, 2009, 915). This is supported by the

increasing interest and skill set of the youth participants in the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event when

comparing initial reaction and the reaction and activity posed by participants upon completion.

       Thus, findings support that intensity is independent of breadth and also supports

successful development. Both breadth and intensity provide different avenues of growth yet

may be considered equally successful when considering the PYD perspective and youth activity.

However, Busseri and Rose-Krasnor conclude by proposing that breadth of involvement in

activity trumps intensity. This is only considered because breadth may provide a well-informed

background through the participation in multiple activities. This may be paralleled to the

sports-plus category versus the sports only cluster. While the sports-plus cluster is considered

most beneficial, the sports only group is considered to be more beneficial than low to no

involvement in structured activities. Together, breadth and intensity provide the most accurate

information and “positively correlated with psychological well-being, academic orientation, and

a composite measure of successful development” (Busseri & Rose-Krasnor, 2009, 920).
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                        16

       The at-risk youth who attended the event come from what researchers Cari Autry and

Stephen Anderson have established as “low-resource” neighborhoods (Autry & Anderson, 2007,

267). Low-resource neighborhoods constitute areas where problems are predominant and

simultaneously exist with poverty and instability within the home. Once a neighborhood begins

to lose its economic stability, “adults and children can become socially isolated, which might

cause a decrease in networks and social capital that help to prevent deviant behavior” (Autry &

Anderson, 2007, 270). The specific neighborhood, Glenview, which was used in this particular

study, exhibits characteristics of a “low-resource” neighborhood. The creation of a recreation

program was structured to offset any of the factors that labeled the youth in the Glenview

community as at-risk. The implemented summer recreation program was free of charge and

provided lunch and snacks to the children living in the neighborhood.

       The idea of a free program coupled with lunch and snacks is very similar to the options

offered by the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama and mirrored the free lunch and event

offered by the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. Ultimately, the city eliminated the recreation

program after one summer session. Autry and Anderson did discover “the notion that

recreation programs offered at targeted times (i.e., after school, nights and summers) can help

to provide a safe space, reduce the crime rate and decrease maladaptive and destructive

behaviors of youth in neighborhoods” (Autry & Anderson, 2007, 268). The most significant

weakness of such a program involved the lack of voluntary organized effort from the

community and may have attributed to the discontinuation of the program. Most importantly,

it was established that “recreation can be used as a tool to enhance the lives of youth” by

combating youth related social problems (Autry & Anderson, 2007, 269).
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                       17

       In order to ensure the success of the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event and the Mobile Area

Rugby Foundation’s future endeavors, a study was reviewed that analyzed four successful

sports-based youth programs by researchers Richard Berlin, Aaron Dworkin, Ned Eames, Arn

Menconi and Daniel Perkins (2007). All four programs aim to promote positive development

among adolescents via sports. The first program covered is Harlem RBI, a non-profit

organization located in East Harlem, New York. This program endorses the ideals and physical

promotions of team sports like baseball and softball to inner-city youth. The program began in

1991 with a summer baseball league and has since then branched into a program that offers

mentoring services, a newsletter for youth participants and a summer literacy camp. The

sustainability of the program was ensured through individual donors and public agencies,

similar to the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. The Harlem RBI program attributes their success

to the collaboration with other youth programs, the group focus of the program and low ratios

of adults to youth. This was taken into consideration when developing relationships with the

Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama and recruiting certified coaches for the event. Through the

emphasis of community and commitment, the Harlem RBI program has blossomed into a year-

round academic and sports-based program that is free to all youth in the area and now serves

over 600 children. The success of the Harlem RBI program may be attested by their statistics.

One hundred percent of their DreamWorks youth participants graduated from high school and

entered into college (Berlin et al., 2007).

       Tenacity is the second sports-based non-profit organization that has successfully

established itself since 1999. The program is headquartered in Boston and uses tennis as its

medium. They offer an after-school and summer program that incorporates reading and
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                        18

academics. Tenacity is similar to the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation’s ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event

because it is geared toward the ages of 7 to 15 and focuses on youth that is considered at-risk.

Coupled with tennis instruction the Tenacity academic programs have increased “reading skills,

participation in and enjoyment of reading, academic competency in English language arts, and

executive functioning and organizational skills” (Berlin et al., 2007, 96). The success and

sustainability of the Tenacity is attributed to not only its impact on the community but the

public-private partnerships it shares with the city and its businesses (Berlin et al., 2007).

        The third program discussed is the Snowsports Outreach Society, which was founded in

1993 in Vail, Colo. The Snowsports Outreach Society focuses on the ability of the youth to

overcome fear while on the mountains and apply it to academic challenges. This program

services a similar audience to Tenacity and the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. They focus on

children from the ages of 8 to 18 that are either from low-income households, single-parent

households or in a situation that lacks family and/or peer support. Snowsports Outreach Society

recognizes the negative factors previously listed that affect idle adolescents and aim to

“increase resiliency and protective factors, thereby increasing the possibility that an individual

will make decisions designed to protect him or her from engaging in unhealthy and harmful

activities” (Berlin et al., 2007, 99). Participants demonstrate the success of the program

through the reported 86 percent increase of resiliency skills upon completion of the program

(Berlin et al., 2007).

        The final model was the Hoops & Leaders Basketball Camp that was established in 2002

in the greater New York City area. This camp offers a mentoring and leadership development

program as well as a summer camp and has expanded to include four branches. The main focus
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                         19

of the camp is the relationships built between campers and mentors. The Hoops & Leaders

Basketball Camp imparts the different components of working for a company like the National

Basketball Association (NBA), the steps to obtaining such a job and the necessity of education

to reach specific goals. This non-profit organization has experienced difficulties with obtaining

evaluating statistics on participants due to lack of resources, but the program is growing from

part to full-time. Sustainability was achieved through in-kind donations and relied heavily on

volunteers (Berlin et al., 2007). The Mobile Area Rugby Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of

South Alabama are similar in that they require the help of local volunteers to perform everyday


       Two depth interviews were conducted to specifically apply the previous research to the

greater Mobile, Alabama area and to further establish the need for such an event. Inger

Anderson, the director of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama, has over 26

years of experience when working with at-risk youth in ways that incorporate sports. Her

experience has led her to qualify at-risk youth as children who are surrounded by violence and

crime, are generally part of a single parent home, lack role models and live in an unstable

environment (I. Anderson, personal communication, January, 19, 2011). Anderson feels that

sports do encourage directly related benefits and skills such as: health, teamwork, recognition,

confidence and motivation. However, indirect benefits are established when an at-risk child

participates in sports. She imparted that in her experience some indirect benefits include:

higher GPAs because many after-school teams have academic requirements, events like ‘Ready

for Rugby!’ provide mentors that would otherwise be unavailable and exposure to a college

campus shows that an education and successful academic career is reachable (I. Anderson,
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                        20

personal communication, January, 19, 2011). Anderson feels that the benefits of organized

activities cannot be completely encompassed by sports. She discussed that positive benefits

may be seen in any organized and supervised activity and sports participation in a healthy

environment is equally effective (I. Anderson, personal communication, January, 19, 2011).

       The second interview was conducted with Spring Hill College professor and founder of

Light of the Village Ministry, John Eads. Eads has more than 10 years of experience working

with at-risk youth in the Mobile, Alabama area. His organization is rooted in Christian ideals and

offers tutoring and after-school and summer programs to low-income youth in the area. He

would classify at-risk youth as those who have an unstable home life, live in an area with

elevated criminal activity and live in a single parent home (J. Eads, personal communication,

January 17, 2011). He feels that the stable presence of an adult, field trips and encouragement

benefit at-risk youth most. In his experience, sports in general, professional teams and their

players are huge icons for at-risk youth and encourage many dreams. Sports encourage

confidence and physical benefits as well as commitment. Upon learning of the ‘Ready for

Rugby!’ event, Eads shared what he felt would impact the children most during the day. By

taking the children out of their element, he felt they would become more moldable and be

more likely to react positively with role models (coaches) and peers. Eads further stated that no

risks outweigh the benefits of such an event and organized sports as a whole (personal

communication, January 17, 2011). Both Anderson and Eads further support the development

of organized sports among at-risk youth through personal experience that may be directly

applied to the greater Mobile, Alabama area.
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                            21

       One ethical theory that is widely known in the communication field applies to the

rationale for the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event. It is Kant’s ethical theory, the categorical imperative.

The categorical imperative theory is regularly applied to ethical situations in the workplace, but

here it applies to the ethical reasons for how and why the event was developed. The first

component of the categorical imperative deals with universal law (Kant, 1900). Universal law

states that the idea or action of any moral statement should be applicable to everyone with no

exceptions. If an exception can be made, then the statement may not be considered truly

moral. Universal law encourages human beings to act as though their moral ideas and

statements will become law. This serves as criteria when deciding whether or not a situation

has a positive ethical basis (Kant, 1900).

       The second aspect of the categorical imperative involves the treatment of humans by

other humans. He considers humans rational beings with the capacity of free will. If humans are

rational beings, they should treat each other as ends, not as means to an end. By treating each

other as ends, humans encourage the development of equality. The final facet of Kant’s

categorical imperative requires some imagination in this day and age. He necessitates that

human beings should imagine that they are a part of a “kingdom of ends.” (Kant, 1900, 63). In

such a kingdom, it may be assumed that any rational being can be the maker and follower of

laws and should apply them carefully. It is also assumed that since all of the beings in this

kingdom are rational and create and follow only moral laws, that the entire kingdom will agree

with such laws (Kant, 1900).

       Essentially Kant promotes the idea of establishing morality in a law or situation form,

verification of such morality through the universal application of it, acting/treating others in a
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                        22

way that one would personally agree with and act and to work and apply morally sound ideas

as if they were real. Kant’s ethical theory applies to the creation and rationale for the ‘Ready for

Rugby!’ event through the application of the three previously mentioned components. The first

component applies to the event when questioning why the event should cater to the youth and

non-profit organizations. Initially a universal rule would establish that those who were

physically, mentally and/or financially able should assist at-risk youth and/or non-profit

organizations. This rule and the proposed action can be applied universally while respecting the

veracity of those providing the aid and those who will receive it.

       The second categorical imperative, treating humans as ends, was established on a

personal level. The event began with an idea to aid a non-profit organization. The use of a non-

profit organization was established out of a sense of duty to the community and those less

fortunate, not for personal gain. This sense of duty is shared by the organizations involved that

exemplify their interest in the community through programs for the youth. The at-risk youth in

attendance may not have the same opportunities to experience different sports as those who

are a part of a privileged lifestyle. Therefore, the creation of and the actual event helped

promote equality among the youth in the community. The third imperative supports the event

through the communal effort provided by the members of the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation,

Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama, Spring Hill College and sponsors. All of these organizations

and their members had feelings congruent with the established universal law and supported it

through their participation in the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event.
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                         23

Project Description/Development

       The idea for a rugby related senior seminar project began the summer before the 2011

school year. I was inspired to incorporate rugby as I have been a fan of the sport since a young

age. Initially I wanted to create an event for the public that would feature the Spring Hill College

rugby club versus the local Mobile rugby club, Battleship Rugby. The event would not be free,

but was to cost each attendee a small donation that would be given to a local non-profit

organization. I was temporarily convinced this was the best way to demonstrate my interest in

public relations while involving the community and aiding a local non-profit organization. This

idea soon changed once I began interning for the Battleship Rugby Club in the fall. Through my

internship I met former club president Robert Corley. During a club meeting he shared interest

in hosting an event for his new project, the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. I expressed interest

in incorporating his foundation into my senior seminar project and began to develop the


       Since the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation focuses on the development of rugby for

youth, we realized the youth in the area could be directly impacted. I still wanted to keep the

non-profit aspect of the project and decided to use a child-based non-profit organization. Issues

began to develop when deciding which children’s non-profit group would be in attendance. A

few were asked and only one accepted (Appendix A). Light of the Village Ministry, Wilmer Hall

and the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama were approached. Including only one organization,

the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama, limited any legal or social issues that may have

occurred upon meshing two groups of at-risk children.
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                        24

       Dorn Field, at Spring Hill College, was deemed a great location for the event for two

reasons. The first reason this field was chosen was to show the bond and willingness of the

college to work with and support the community. The second was to allow the children to

experience a college campus and show its attainability.

       Originally, I intended the event to take place over an entire weekend in March but only

during the day. After working with Robert Corley on logistics, we decided it should take place

only on a Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. In mid January, the date was changed from the

first week of March to February 5 due to the conflicting schedules of Mobile Area Rugby

Foundation members. After establishing a set date, place and attending organization,

sponsorships became the next task. I began accruing food and beverage donations. All

challenges relating to sponsorships may be seen in the following ‘Reflection’ portion of the

report. A Facebook page, Mobile Area Rugby Foundation informational sheets, itineraries, t-

shirts and a news release were developed and shared with local media (Appendices B, C, D, E

and F). A local media contacts list was given to me by Spring Hill College Professor Rhonda

Lucas. She had learned of my event and the list was later utilized (Appendix G). Photographs of

the event, accompanied by a news release, were sent to the same contacts following the

conclusion of the event. The assessment period began the day of the event when a Springhillian

reporter and the Badger Beat web cast group attended and interviewed the foundation

president, Robert Corley and myself.


       The methodology consisted of using both qualitative and quantitative research to

ensure the success of the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event and assessment. Although qualitative
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                         25

research was used, it was limited. I conducted depth interviews with local adults who have

experience in creating and maintaining youth recreation and after-school programs. I reported

on ethnographic research that has been conducted on related youth sports programs in other

underprivileged areas. Quantitative research was conducted in the form of emails, face-to-face

interviews, informational paperwork and telephone. Emails and face-to-face interviews were

conducted among organization members. Informational paperwork/requests were sent to

potential sponsors. Paperwork, emails and telephone calls were placed to inform the media and

to invite media personnel to attend and cover the event. Hard data is essential to the research

component of the project. It is necessary to analyze the success of similar programs as well as

studies that have been conducted that measure the impacts on the youth participants.

       Secondary research was the first form of research conducted. Collected articles and

journals that discuss the success of related programs that have been put into action all over the

United States were necessary not only as guidelines but also to learn what should be avoided

when creating such an event. The success of the programs may also be attributed to the

positive results, which were also researched. Studies were found that share either the harmful

or beneficial effects of a youth recreation program and were another essential form of

secondary research.

       Primary research was conducted in the form of face-to-face and depth interviews of

local professionals that work with the underprivileged youth in recreation related programs. It

was also conducted in the form of calling, emailing and meeting sponsors to pitch the event and

obtain donations.
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                      26

        The event received ‘soft’ news coverage due to the fun nature of the ‘Ready for Rugby!’

event. Local media from television to newspaper were contacted in order to promote

awareness of the event, arouse community interest, but most importantly awareness for the

Mobile Area Rugby Foundation.


        The public relations event for the local non-profit organization, the Mobile Area Rugby

Foundation, consisted of three goal components. The first was to hold a youth rugby related

event. The second facet was to create awareness about the positive benefits of organized

sports through the promotion of the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. The final aspect was to

ensure that the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama

may sustain the event annually.

        The first goal was accomplished upon the completion of the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event on

February 5, 2011. A total of 26 youth participants attended and learned to play non-contact

rugby. The second goal was achieved by way of media. One example, the Badger Beat news

web cast contained interviews from myself and foundation president Robert Corley who

imparted information about the benefits of such activities. The third goal was attained and

exceeded by the beginnings of a discussion of development of after-school rugby programs in

two Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama.

Target Audiences

        The target audience consisted of all residents of the greater Mobile, Alabama area

including the youth. All residents in the area should be made conscious of such an event and

foundation so that they may ultimately be involved or aware of the benefits provided by rugby
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                       27

and the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation. Support must be shown and provided by local

residents in order to encourage the growth of young non-profit organizations and the Mobile

Area Rugby Foundation is no exception. The support provided by residents will help fuel the

foundation through monetary donations and volunteers. Organizations like the Mobile Area

Rugby Foundation affect all residents in the community whether it is directly through

volunteering and donations or through youth relatives that take part in the program. Residents

of all ages are included in the target audience because the foundation has the ability to directly

affect and/or be supported by Mobile, Alabama residents of all ages.

       However, at-risk youth from the greater Mobile area may be considered a more specific

market segment for this event. The ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event was created to directly work with

and affect at-risk youth in the area, namely those connected with the Boys & Girls Clubs of

South Alabama. Therefore, they are seen as the directly affected segment for the ‘Ready for

Rugby!’ event while other residents in the area are categorized as the indirectly affected



       The long-term objective for this project was to successfully establish sustainable

relationships and provide information to the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation that would allow

them to make ‘Ready for Rugby!’ an annual event. This information and relationship has been

established through the success of the event. Initially, measurement of this objective could not

be seen until the year 2012. It is now measured by the success of the 2011 event and has

surpassed expectations by the discussion of after-school non-contact rugby programs in two of

the three Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama that attended.
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                       28

       A second short-term objective was to be completed within two months of the event.

The objective was to ensure that the event and/or the foundation were covered by at least one

form of media in the Mobile, Alabama area. This objective was also completed and exceeded

expectations. The event and foundation were mentioned with photographs in The Press-

Register newspaper’s neighborhood section, The Springhillian newspaper, the Badger Beat

video news web cast and will be mentioned in the Spring Hill College Alumni magazine May

2011 edition (Appendices H, I, J and K).

       The third objective was short term and initially seemed unrealistic. It was to ensure the

youth participants enjoyed and felt positively about their experience at the ‘Ready for Rugby!’

event. This objective was measurable and successful. It was measured by the beginning

discussion of the after-school non-contact programs in two of the three clubs and by a letter

from the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama coordinator and cards written voluntarily by the

youth participants (Appendices L and M).


       The strategy used to ensure the successful completion of the first objective involved

closely working with the director of operations of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama,

Inger Anderson. In order to ensure media coverage mentioned in the second objective, news

releases, email, word-of-mouth and Facebook were employed. To ensure the final objective

was met, the event was to center around and be for the children, not necessarily for the public.

On the day of the event, the focus was on the participants, not the organizations or the media.

Safety was an essential component to guarantee the positive attitude towards the event.
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                           29


          Objective one tactics: A close relationship was established with Ms. Anderson through

constant communication by email, telephone and face-to-face meetings. All communication

included constant updates of event development and safety of participants. Objective two

tactics: Emails with attached news releases and photos were directly sent to local media before

and after the event and through the Spring Hill College communication department (Appendix

F). A Facebook event page was created to keep ‘friends’ updated on the Mobile Area Rugby

Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama and to post pictures and information

during and after the event (Appendix B). Objective three tactics: The children were able to

interact closely with peers and authority figures. They received attention and encouragement

from coaches by being split into small, intimate teams. Photo opportunities among groups of

friends were available and each child received a free lunch, t-shirt and pair of winter gloves to

wear in the cold weather. In order to ensure safety, non-contact rugby was taught as opposed

to contact and permission slips and media waivers were signed by all guardians of participants

(Appendix S).


Materials produced in relation to the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event:

          T-shirts for instructors and participants (Appendix E)
          Facebook event page (Appendix B)
          Sponsorship pitches & thank you letters (Appendix R)
          News release (Appendix F)
          Event photo CDs (Appendix V)
          Media release for participants (Appendices O and P)
          Mobile Area Rugby Foundation logo & T-shirt design (courtesy of Spring Hill College
          graphic design student Nicole Hartman) (Appendices W and X)
          Event itinerary (Appendix D)
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                          30

       Mobile Area Rugby Foundation informational handouts (Appendix C)
       Pizza/sub lunches, bottles of water and utensils

   The total cost of all of the abovementioned materials used for the event was just under

$500. The entirety of this cost consisted of the t-shirts. Individual donors connected with

Battleship Rugby Club, a Mobile based adult rugby club, paid for this cost in full (Appendix Q).

All other items were donated by sponsors or created free of charge.


       The success of each objective was evaluated individually. The first objective was

evaluated through the letter sent on March 2, 2011 by Ms. Inger Anderson in regards to the

success of the event (Appendix L). In the letter Ms. Anderson imparted that participants “had a

great time” and she was touched by the actions of the coaches from the Mobile Area Rugby

Foundation (Appendix L). The second way the success of the first objective was measured can

be seen through the initial desire to make ‘Ready for Rugby!’ and annual event. The expectation

of an annual event was exceeded by the beginning talk of the creation of two after-school non-

contact rugby programs in two of the three clubs that attended the event.

       The second objective was measured on a more tangible level. It required that the event

and/or foundation to be mentioned in at least one form of media. The ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event

was mentioned in three forms of media immediately after its execution. They were as follows:

an article with photos in The Mobile Press-Register, an article in The Springhillian college

newspaper and a segment on the Badger Beat online college web cast (Appendices H, I and J).

The event is in the process of being covered by the Spring Hill College Alumni magazine in the

May 2011 edition in the news briefs section according to the Spring Hill College director of

communication, John Kerr (Appendix K).
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                         31

         The third and final objective was successfully measured by the voluntary responses of

the youth participants after the completion of the ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event. The discussion of

the establishment of two after-school youth rugby programs provided a small hint of the

success of the event and reflected the enjoyment experienced by participants. The true

measurement was made available by the unsolicited and handmade thank you notes sent by

the children of each club that attended (Appendix M). The notes thanked the Mobile Area

Rugby Foundation for hosting the event and one youth participant expressed her personal

experience, “Thanks for having rugby. It was so fun to play even though I was shy then broke

into playing the activities” (Appendix M). These notes, new after-school programs and quote

attest that overall, the youth participants enjoyed their experience at the ‘Ready for Rugby!’


         All three objectives were clearly stated in the early development process of the ‘Ready

for Rugby!’ event. One objective exceeded expectations and the other two were successfully

met and attest to the need, enjoyment and success of the event.


         The abovementioned successes of the events were matched with just as many

challenges. The initial challenge concerned which child centered organization would attend a

rugby related event. In the United States, rugby has negative connotations and is seen as a very

aggressive sport played by ruffians. This was expected to hinder many child-based organizations

from desiring to attend. I first attempted to recruit the group Light of the Village Ministries

from Prichard, Alabama President, John Eads, declined after much conversation because of the

expected aggression of the youth in his particular organization. Wilmer Hall, a local orphanage,
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                           32

declined due to the children’s lack of interest in the unfamiliar sport. The final invitation was

sent to the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama and they enthusiastically accepted.

       The second issue involved background checks of the volunteers working for the Mobile

Area Rugby Foundation. They were not required by the Boys & Girls Clubs not only because the

clubs assume full responsibility for their children, but because all of the volunteers were

certified youth coaches and/or referees. The background checks were required by Spring Hill

College to limit liability. Background checks were performed but not asked to be given to the

head of the college’s public safety until the day before the event. After being sent to the head

of public safety, Jim Crosby and risk manager Patty Davis, an issue occurred with the clearance

of one volunteer. One volunteer is a certified youth referee and member of the U.S. Coast

Guard and has ‘special military clearance.’ He is considered ‘unsearchable’ due to his station

and rank in the military. The day before the event, Spring Hill College Public Safety was

concerned with his lack of background information and threatened to cancel the event due to

liability issues. After speaking with Patty Davis, the risk manager, a formal statement from the

Mobile Area Rugby Foundation president was issued attesting to the volunteer’s credentials

and the event was allowed to continue. Emails regarding the issue with Spring Hill College

Public Safety can be seen in Appendix N.

       The third challenge involved sponsorships. I wanted to procure local sponsors who were

willing to donate enough food and beverages for the children to have lunch during the event.

Bruno’s grocery store was very willing and easy to work with. They responded within two days

of receiving a hand delivered request to provide bottled water for the event (Appendix R).

       However, food sponsors were more difficult. Initially Momma Goldberg’s sub shop
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                          33

expressed interest and verbally committed to providing subs after receiving the formal request.

The sub shop committed to providing lunches until two days before the event. I called to

provide a reminder and confirm the order and was informed that Momma Goldberg’s would be

unable to provide the lunches due to lack of staff present on the day the lunches would be

prepared. The lack of official commitment could have been prevented. A binding contract

should have been created that could be signed and given to both parties. I was extremely

fortunate to persuade Lenny’s Sub Shop and Hungry Howie’s Pizza to provide lunches the day

prior to the event with only a formal, written request and face-to-face meeting.

       Legal issues were limited during the event development process. Besides the

background checks, a permission slip releasing Spring Hill College and its affiliates from any

liability relating to the physical and mental health of the children was created in conjunction

with Spring Hill College’s risk manager (Appendix O). Another media waiver was approved and

declared legally sound by the risk manager as well. Initially I intended to not photograph the

faces of the children during the event in order to limit any ethical issues that would associate

them with the keywords ‘at-risk’ or ‘low-income.’ After some thought, it was decided that it

would be nearly impossible when taking pictures of the children in action to hide their faces, so

a media waiver was signed by each child’s guardian (Appendix P). This waiver allows the Mobile

Area Rugby Foundation and its affiliates to have all rights to the photographs taken the day of

the event.

       I achieved and accomplished all of the objectives set by myself in the development

process of the event. All obstacles were overcome and although they hindered the

development of the event, they did not prevent it. I surprised myself in many ways throughout
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                          34

the day of the event and the time leading up to it. Initially I anticipated being able to handle the

entire project alone with ease. If I were to do such an event again I would enlist the help of a

partner to facilitate the communication process between sponsors and foundation and

organization members and to help with the assessment period documentation. The event made

use of my organizational and time management skills and improved them greatly. Working with

different organizations and sponsors on a personal level increased my initiative and comfort

when dealing with professionals.

       Conducting research regarding the benefits of sports for at-risk youth and witnessing

the children’s reaction on the day of the event cannot be fully communicated in words. I

realized after the event that although the one of the main focuses of the project was the public

relations aspect, benefiting the youth from the different clubs became the rationale and reason

for such an event. This project truly changed my life. It began with a love of rugby and ended by

allowing me to share this passion and open the youth in the area to a unique experience that

may not have otherwise been available.

       I would like to say that I am the most proud of the effort and creation of this project, but

that would not be true. Although I am very proud of the creation and unique aspect of such a

project, my role was small and only facilitated a new experience for the youth that attended.

More important than any obstacle I have overcome during this process or any professional

interaction, is how proud I am of the children. I cannot believe how readily they accepted their

peers and authority figures during the event. I am so proud of how well they worked together

and made the most of a new experience so much so that it became a regular program. I am
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                                     35

proud of the project as a whole, but the children were the heart of and reason for it and I

cannot say it would be a success without their enthusiasm.
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                   36


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LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                     37

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LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                  38


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LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                                39


Appendix A: Participation acceptance email from Inger Anderson

Appendix B: Facebook event page printouts

Appendix C: Mobile Area Rugby Foundation informational sheets

Appendix D: ‘Ready for Rugby!’ event itineraries

Appendix E: Photographs of event t -shirts

Appendix F: News Release with photographs

Appendix G: Media contact list email from Rhonda Lucas

Appendix H: The Mobile Press-Register article

Appendix I: The Springhillian article

Appendix J: The Badger Beat event coverage in CD form

Appendix K: Email with John Kerr regarding the alumni magazine article

Appendix L: Letter from Inger Anderson post -event

Appendix M: Thank you cards from youth participants

Appendix N: Email contact with Spri ng Hill College Public Safety
LET’S GET READY TO RUGBY!                                              40

Appendix O: Permission slip form

Appendix P: Media waiver form

Appendix Q: Email containing donor list from Robert Corley

Appendix R: Bruno’s, Hungry Howie’s and Lenny’s donation request forms

Appendix S: Signed permission sli ps/waivers for Spring Hill College

Appendix T: Connections magazines

Appendix U: Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama signed permission slips

Appendix V: CD of all photos taken of the event

Appendix W: Mobile Area Rugby Foundation logo

Appendix X: Mobile Area Rugby Foundation event shirt design

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