Memphis Inner City Rugby tackling the virus head on


Over the past month the team at Memphis Inner City Rugby have been working incredibly hard to support those who need it in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-March, an ‘adapted services plan’ was launched to “redirect organization resources to be the most helpful for our students & families”.


The plan relied on members of the local community donating laptops, free weights, jump ropes, and people’s time to deliver the services to the kids who need it in the inner city. The support from the community has been fantastic and if there is a success to be taken out of this crisis, it’s the way MICR has continued to contribute to the development and wellbeing of its kids.




Some of the vital services the organisation has managed to keep going includes nutritional support for families, laptop distribution for virtual academic check-ins and learning, and delivering yoga mats, jump ropes and rugby balls to facilitate continued fitness and skill building in their pupils. On top of all this, they have still managed to continue with a level of part-time pay for its alumnus coaches.


The coaches have also been instrumental in helping deliver the services themselves, with Niya, Sam, Jalen and DeKauri all helping assemble support bags in one of the first needs handouts. They help distribute nutrition, toiletries, and fitness equipment for student athletes and their families. With the help of Savannah and Jalen, they have been able to deliver rugby balls so the students can take part in the ‘100 Challenge’ which has been a successful way for coaches to continue helping students gain quantifiable achievements and rewards.


In another great move that has seen the programme support students and families alike has been the needs survey which has been circulated online, and made accessible through the distribution of laptops. This has allowed families to fill in their specific needs which the team at MICR can then try and source from those who are able to give. Demarion and Dominique have been helping deliver some of these recently, including specific needs such as soap, toilet paper, dental floss, shaving products, food, rugby balls as well as yoga mats, all of which are helping families stay at home.


Niya, Sam, Jalen and DeKauri helping assemble support bags in one of the first needs handouts.

Demarion and Dominique helping deliver needs packages including soap, toilet paper, dental floss, shaving products, food, rugby balls as well as yoga mats.

Coach Shane working out who needs what with the help of the specific needs survey that has been so effective.

Aside from community support, this enormous effort has been aided by a variety of people and organisations. Honourable mentions must go to Slingshot Memphis and other local charities which have helped “keep our work responsive, intentional and efficient during this difficult time,” as well as the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis who, in late April, awarded $200,000 in grants to 11 local organisations, including Memphis Inner City Rugby.


The Adapted Services Plan has also seen some of the organisation’s resources directed to support local small businesses which are “vital” to supporting the charity and others like it, in one case, Jenkins Lawncare has continued landscaping at Vance Middle School, meaning that by the time the situation across the world improves and everyone returns to theplaying field, they will still be able to play and keep fit and healthy.


Finally, “thanks to the thoughtfulness of John Layfield & generosity of Mike Novogratz, MICR students and alums are getting a major tech support boost during quarantine. As our organization and its students continue to adapt to new challenges, this donation of laptops, chargers, and broadband internet access will be [a gamechanger] for all of us. Thank you!”