“A positive environment for everyone to enjoy rugby “

The Legacy in Action - Phase One - Devon

The Background

Autumn 2015 saw the biggest and the best Rugby World Cup, in history, play out against a backdrop of intense media interest.

A global success, it attracted tens of millions of viewers across the world, with stadiums selling out in host cities across England & Wales.

One such city was Exeter, who hosted three of the tournament’s games & whose efforts secured the delivery of their most successful event to date.   Their brief: to give back to the community by creating a lasting legacy, stemming from the tournament, which would attract & keep more players in the game.

With partners unanimous in their decision to keep children and their families at the heart of the legacy, My First Rugby Ball & Mini; the hugely loveable oval ball, with a big heart, was delivered to the city during 2015.

Focusing on the game’s core values, over 3000 children in Exeter were given a copy of the specially commissioned book; My First Rugby Ball, along with a series of three coaching sessions &, in as many cases as were possible, a personal visit from Mini himself.

The project was an enormous success attracting unprecedented global attention, at the highest levels of rugby and engaging with children of all ages. The project even made its way into the hands of royalty with Prince Harry, himself, receiving copies of the book for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.


The Legacy in Action

As part of the ongoing commitment to the legacy and to the children of Exeter, schools across the city are now being invited to take part, from January 2016, in Mini’s Academy.

Sessions at the Academy will run as 45 minute, weekly, after school clubs, within your school setting. Open to Reception & Key Stage 1 children from 4 - 7 years, the academy will begin in Exeter, rolling out across Devon over the course of 2016.

Children in both Key Stage 1 & 2 will also be invited to join our two day Academy Holiday Clubs which will run during the Easter & Summer Holidays.

Director of Coaching, former Exeter Chief; Nic Sestaret, will lead the initial after school sessions, focusing on developing an understanding of the game, ball handling, cognitive skills and spacial awareness.


“This is a great opportunity for the children to learn, right from the start, that the most important part of learning anything new, is to have fun and not to worry about making mistakes. That is the way we learn and that is how we grow as players. I think that this is an excellent thing for the children and I am looking forward to spending more time back in Exeter”

Nic Sestaret, Director of Coaching, former Exeter Chief

The Ethos

Mini’s Academy will offer a positive learning environment where children feel safe to learn & try their new skills, are encouraged to challenge themselves and where, most importantly, they have can fun; all of which will come under the guidance of our coaches.

Mini’s values; to…

  • Have fun
  • Work Hard
  • Help Your Team Mates
  • Respect the Laws
  • Play Fair

are as important off the pitch as they are on and time will be taken during each one of the sessions to think about these values in a little more depth.

KIPP - Keep It Positive People

KIPP is our sideline programme which will run alongside all of our training sessions.

Much has been made of anti-social sideline behaviour in our clubs; it has been proven, time and time again to discourage children from participating in the game. ‘Over enthusiastic’ sideline behaviour from parents & supporters, only increases pressure on the child and takes away the fun element from the game.


At this age and right up until the age of around 11, the main reason children play a sport is to have fun and to spend time with their friends. This is exactly as it should be and is what lies at the heart of every session at Mini’s Academy.

We believe that the key to making a change is to start at a grassroots level and we are committed to doing our part in helping to stamp out all and any behaviour that has a negative effect on our children’s development.

So, on joining, each child & parent will be gifted a wrist band, as part of their welcome pack, which we respectfully ask is worn at each session, as a reminder to ‘Keep It Positive People’

“Let the game belong to the kids. Let the coach do his job and let’s Keep It Positive People”


The Schools Link Programme

We are also offering the unique opportunity to link your school, through the Academy, to schools in the RWC nations of Tonga & Italy, both of whom played at Sandy Park during RWC2015.

This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to extend the cultural side of the legacy through education, sport & friendship.

“This is a very important prospect for our children and for Tonga as well”

S. Fe’ao Vakata. Tongan Minister for Culture & Education

The French Connection - Attrapez-moi! Donne moi! Serre moi!

As many of you know, Nic Sestaret, Director of Coaching and former Exeter Chief, is originally from France. Luckily, despite having lived in the UK for the past ten years, he still speaks the language pretty well and here, lies a USP.

At least one session each 1/2 term will be delivered by Nic, in French, giving children the unique opportunity to begin learning a new language whilst putting it into practice on the rugby pitch.

Research shows that children learn and retain information, including language, far more effectively when putting it in action. They’ll be catching, passing & running with the ball, in French, in no time!


The Welcome Pack

On joining the academy, children will be given a welcome gift of:

  • A branded drawstring kitbag
  • A copy of My First Rugby Ball
  • A branded drinks bottle
  • Two KIPP wristbands (one for the child, one for the parent)

The Sessions

Sessions will focus on:

  • developing an understanding of the game
  • cognitive development
  • ball handling skills
  • social skills
  • values

and each half term will follow a theme, for example:

  • Health & nutrition
  • The importance of exercise
  • Values on & off the pitch
  • Overcoming challenges

The Delivery

The 45 min, weekly sessions, will be delivered by a pool of coaches, which will include Exeter Chiefs community coaches and will be headed up by former Exeter Chief; Nic Sestaret. Each school will be allocated a coach who will remain with the children, throughout the term.

With the Exeter Chiefs on board, we will also make sure that the children are treated to surprise coaching visits, from their favourite players, throughout the year.

Mini; the star of the show will, of course, also pop in to say hi from time to time.

The Cost

In order to ensure that as many children as possible are able to take part, we have kept costings below the £5 mark. Once we reach session capacity of 20, children will be added to a waiting list.

After School Clubs

(4 - 8 year olds)

£4.00 per session/per child (payable half termly in advance)

Holiday Clubs

(4 - 6 & 7 - 9 year olds) Details coming soon…..

£45 per 2 day camp (payable on line in advance)

The Next Steps…

We’re excited to get you up and running, both as a school and a parent.
Schools, if you haven’t already done so, you can sign up here.


“This has been an enormously successful tournament for Exeter, but especially so for the children. We are now committed to ensuring that Mini & the My First Rugby Ball legacy lives on in the city and beyond, through the Academy. The schools link is an excellent development and one I’m looking forward to seeing in action”

Cath White. Exeter RWC Legacy Lead

N.B The Academy is expanding!
Don’t miss out; register your school or child’s place now!

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“This is so good. It’s perfect to introduce the little ones to rugby”

Nic Sestaret, Director of Rugby at Taunton School, Former Premiership Player

"My favourite part is at the end of the session when we get to cheers for how hard we tried today”

Andrew Diatz, Ide Primary School

“Happy to be involved in such an exciting, innovative venture”

Jai Purewal, Wooden Spoon

“This is great! Perfect for engaging with players”

Tim Stimpson, Former England International, Sporting Partners

“This little guy’s gonna be big! Watch this one!”

Gareth ‘Coach’ Chilcott, Former England International Vena Tour Ambassadors

“Nice! We need this little guy in France!”

Serge Betson, Former French International

“It's really good. He trains us to do lots of activities and funny stretches!”

Eliot Pearce, Pinhoe Primary School

“Very happy to support the project! Think it’s a great idea!”

Matt Jess, Exeter Chiefs

“Cool! This guy’s a dude!”

Jack Nowell, England International, Exeter Chiefs

“This is the perfect link between sport & literacy”

James Bogue, Active Devon

“What better way to get rugby’s values across?”

Sir Paul Jones, First Federation

“Fantastic! I happily recommend all Junior sections distribute bespoke copies among their youngest players”

Dave Butt, Chairman Devon RFU

“I adore the concept of this book, not only from a rugby point of view, but the set of core values it promotes”

Ian Crews, Principle Designate at South Devon UTC

“What a fantastic concept! Love the values behind this”

Alex Payne, Rugby Union Presenter at Sky Sports

“Love this! Great illustrations & potential for development”

Quentin Smith, Chairman at Premiership Rugby

“This is very cool! I like it a lot!”

John Mitchell, International Rugby Coach

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