The charitable side of... The RBS Six Nations

Nathalie Thomas

Once the organised violence of the game is over, rugby players can be quite generous.

Despite the adage that rugby is a gentlemen's sport, the game's rucking, mauling and occasional fist-flying qualities don't lend themselves easily to thoughts of charitable goodwill. When Wales line up against England to defend their Six Nations title at Twickenham on Saturday, acts of generosity won't be a priority for either team.

But as players give each other cauliflower ears on the pitch, the Royal Bank of Scotland - the tournament's official sponsor - and the Prince's Trust say the lads are perfectly charitable off it.

The English, Welsh and Scottish rugby unions are setting aside competition over Grand Slams and Triple Crowns for a while to support RBS-sponsored youth rugby programmes during the six weeks of the tournament.

Schoolchildren on the Prince's Trust's xl programme - a scheme aimed at adolescents at risk of exclusion - are treated to talks by former international players, tag rugby sessions and visits to the national stadiums. It is hoped that the game's teamwork and leadership skills will help boost their confidence and tackle the threat of under-achievement.

Some participants will also play in a rugby tournament of their own - thankfully, not against the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio and Gavin Henson.

Otherwise, they could need the services of another beneficiary - the Support Paraplegics in Rugby Enterprise, or Spire.

The official charity of the RFU, Spire is a sobering reminder of the game's downsides. It provides financial assistance for former players who have suffered permanent disability. It receives £1 from every ticket sold for internationals at Twickenham.

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