Two years ago the RFU put together a task group to run an extensive consultation exercise. The Core Values project is the first time a sport has set out to define its value system in formal terms. The evidence assessed included written and oral testimonies, focus groups and an online survey.
They identified TEAMWORK, RESPECT, ENJOYMENT, DISCIPLINE and SPORTSMANSHIP as the Core Values that underpin rugby union and recommended that their place at the heart of the game be vigorously promoted.
"These five values are what brought us into the sport and what keep us part of it. They are what rugby union has to offer and go way beyond the pitch and the clubhouse," said RFU President John Owen.
"Rugby can be proud of its unique spirit, but it's important to make sure that it is protected for the future. Our next task is to share and promote them within the whole game."
Now the RFU, in partnership with Premier Rugby Limited (PRL) and the Professional Rugby Players Association (PRA), will work to promote the Core Values through the 'This is Rugby' campaign to everyone involved in rugby from the England team to the grassroots game. Sixways skipper Pat Sanderson was invited to London on Wednesday to launch the event as an ideal role model for the sport who embodies all the above traits.
It is supported by the International Rugby Board and closely linked to the IRB Playing Charter, the expression of the sport's principles made by the game's global governing body.
"The Core Values are a key theme of our Strategic Plan, enshrined in our mission statements and codes of conduct, and it's the intention of the RFU and its partners to communicate them to the whole game," said RFU Chief Executive Francis Baron.
"Our resources include a promotional film, Z cards, and printed and online materials that will reach all our 1900 member clubs and 3100 member schools, as well as a series of workshops that will run throughout the country."
The 'This is Rugby' campaign will make all of those assets and collateral available to clubs around the country to help them educate players, coaches, administrators, volunteers and supporters about the Core Values that have made the game of rugby so successful and which now need to be actively maintained. That activity will be further extended in the professional rugby game by PRL and the PRA.
PRL Executive Mark McCafferty said: "The qualities engendered by the Core Values have been a key component in making the Guinness Premiership a vibrant competition, attracting a wide and growing audience that includes many women, children and families.
"It is the responsibility of the Guinness Premiership clubs to live up to those Core Values and we will be promoting them to our supporters at our grounds and through our award-winning community programmes."
PRA Chief Executive Damian Hopley said: "It is imperative that we invest into education programmes for the professional players to ensure they continue to be aware of their privileged position as role models for the game.
"Through this thorough education programme, the PRA and our members will work in partnership with the game's stakeholders to promote the Core Values of rugby union in this country."
For more information on the background to the Core Values project visit www.rfu.com