The Atlas Foundation | Rugby Champions
The Atlas Foundation is a charity founded by Jason Leonard and other rugby and corporate heavyweights to raise people out of disadvantage around the world.
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ATLAS works through a global network of Rugby Champions to support projects that use rugby to improve the lives of some of the poorest people on earth.

Most of our work is with children and young people, and we work to improve their lives regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race or religion.

ATLAS funds overseas projects, including building schools and sports pitches, and providing education, food, medicine and play for children in deprived communities.

While rugby is our vehicle, our work is essentially humanitarian. In the poorest communities we focus on benefits to children that once given cannot be sold or stolen from them.

Rugby Champions

ATLAS’s Rugby Champions are mostly celebrated international rugby players, including “centurions” with over 100 international caps, and multiple world cup winners.

Jason Leonard OBE

England 114 caps

England Rugby’s most-capped player, with 114 caps for England, a further 5 for the British & Irish Lions, and in 2003 a Rugby World Cup win in Australia. He was awarded the OBE in 2004 for services to sport, and is currently RFU President.

Maro Itoje

England 15 caps and counting

Already legendary second row, playing for England and the Lions. Also a politics graduate and interested in Atlas’s international development work. Maro is our Global Champion for the Atlas All Schools programme.

Joel Stransky

South Africa 22 caps

Joel is best remembered as the fly half who scored all of South Africa’s points and the winning drop goal against New Zealand in the 1995 World Cup Final.  He has his own SA educational charity and our Champion for the Atlas All Schools programme in Israel.

Maggie Alphonsi

England 70 caps

Flanker who represented England on 70 occasions, and won the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014. First woman to win the Rugby Writer’s Pat Marshall award, winner of the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the year in 2010, she is now a respected TV presenter and in 2016 was elected to the RFU Council.

Matt Hampson

England U21

“Hambo” played prop for England U21’s before suffering a critical injury in practice in 2005. He established his own Foundation and helps rugby players and others with critical injuries recover and “get busy living”. He is an active supporter of his own and other charities, and an established writer for local, international and specialist rugby publications.

Pepsii Kamaldeep Dagar

India Captain

Known as Pepsii, Kamaldeep Dagar plays for Delhi Hurricanes and was formerly captain of the national team. Pepsii has a full time job with the police force in Delhi. The Hurricanes were the first club to ever do the double with both the men’s and women’s teams winning the All India tournament.

Don James Jr

USA 9 caps

Don was a tighthead prop who represented the USA 9 times, won the Collegiate title 4 times with the University of California, played in Ireland, at Harlequins and for Oxford in the Varsity Match. He also played high level football (the American kind).   He is on the US Rugby Foundation Board of Directors and in the University of California Athletic Hall of Fame. He founded and runs a successful IT company with offices around the world.

George Gregan

Australia 139 caps

The Australian scrum-half with the quick wit and fastest distribution in world rugby is the most capped player in the international game, playing in 139 Tests for Australia. He played in three Rugby World Cups, winning one.

Richard Harry

Australia 37 caps

Richard was a hard-running loosehead prop and an integral part of the Wallabies during a golden era, which included clinching the Bledisloe Cup in 1998 and retaining it for the next three years, winning the Rugby World Cup in 1999, and a Tri Nations triumph in 2000.

Shane Byrne

Ireland 41 caps

Shane is a former hooker for Ireland and also won four caps with the Lions on the New Zealand tour of 2005. He played most of his club rugby with Leinster and a short stint with Saracens. Shane is much loved and remembered for his fearsome mullet haircut. He is now a successful businessman and burgeoning media celebrity, in 2014 he got his acting debut in Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie.

John Eales

Australia 86 caps

John Eales was given the nickname “Nobody” because “Nobody’s perfect”. He captained Australian and won the Rugby World Cup twice.

Martyn Williams

Wales 100 caps

Martyn is a flanker who appeared 100 times for Wales, 4 for the British and Irish Lions, and captained his country He currently holds the Welsh record for most appearances in the Five and Six Nations championships.

Carlo Checchinato

Italy 83 caps

Carlo is the current Italian national team manager. As a player he represented Italy at World Cups in 1995, 1999 and 2003. He earned 83 caps and scored 21 tries, an international try total for forwards that he held until 2007.

Dan Crowley

Australia 55 caps

Dan played prop for Australia and is one of a very select band of players to be a double world champion having won Rugby World Cups in 1991 and 1999. He also worked as an undercover police officer specialising in busting drug-rings. He has written of these experiences in a book Undercover Prop.

David Sole OBE

Scotland 44 caps

David made his Scotland debut in 1986 against France and went on to win 44 caps at prop, with a record 25 as captain. He also made three appearances for the British Lions in Australia in 1989. He now has a successful media and corporate career. In 1993 he was awarded the OBE for services to Rugby Football.

Philippe Sella

France 111 caps

Philippe is a former French centre who held a world record for the most international appearances with 111 caps, until he was overtaken by ATLAS’s own Jason Leonard.  He is one of only five players to have scored a try in every game during a five nations season. He became a member of the IRB Hall of Fame in 2008.

Alessandro Moscardi

Italy 45 caps

Alessandro played hooker for Italy 45 times including captaining his country on 17 occasions. He led his club Treviso to the Italian title before announcing his retirement from club rugby in the summer of 2003. He now has a successful corporate career.

Catherine Spencer

England 63 caps  (Photo: Ellie Kealey)

Catherine is the former England Women’s captain and no.8 who won six Six Nations Titles, five Grand Slams and led the team to the final in the 2010 World Cup in New Zealand. She retired from international rugby in 2011 and founded her own company Inspiring Women which provides organisations with inspiring women to develop talent and leadership.

Agustín Pichot

Argentina 71 caps

Gus is the former Argentinian scrum half and captain who took Argentina to third place in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. He has played for teams in England and France and was the first foreign captain of a French team to win the French Championship.

Bernard Jackman

Ireland 9 caps

Bernard is a former hooker who played club rugby for Connacht, Leinster and Sale, where he helped them win the European Challenge Cup, and represented Ireland 9 times before retiring due to a concussion injury. He took up coaching and is now Head Coach at FC Grenoble.

Bob Skinstad

South Africa 42 caps

Bob is a former Springbok captain and Rugby World Cup winner. He has played in Wales and England as well as South Africa and frequently captained the Barbarians. After international rugby Bob started his own company, represents a number of public bodies and charities, including his own Foundation, and works as a presenter for Sky Sports.

Fernando de la Fuente

Uruguay U21

Fernando played fly-half for Uruguay U21 and for Old Boys Club. He recently earned his MBA degree from London Business School and is successfully developing his career both as a Strategy Consultant and as an Entrepreneur. Fernando has been an energetic supporter of several charities, especially those focused on education.

Gary Halpin

Ireland 11 caps

Gary is a former prop for Ireland. He made his debut in 1990 and played at international level until 1995. He was part of the Ireland Rugby World Cup squad in 1991 and 1995. He is now 1st XV coach at Christ College, Wales but returns home regularly to support ATLAS in Ireland.

Gregg Wallace

Television presenter & rugby coach

Gregg is well known for presenting Masterchef and a host of other television programmes. It is less well known that he used to play in the Front Row and is a Level 2 rugby coach.

Gareth Chilcott

England 14 caps

Played at prop for England and toured with the British & Irish Lions in Australia. He acted in the revived stage play Up ‘n’ Under and appeared in a rugby special of the television show Come Dine with Me.

Thinus Delaport

South Africa 18 caps

Thinus Delport played for South African at wing or fullback and thereafter for Worcester, Gloucester and in Japan. He is a regular commentator for Sky Sports.


Supported by corporate heavyweights and charity specialists, ATLAS was founded in 2015 and its first projects start work in 2016 in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, South America, India and the Pacific Islands, paying for coaches, funding education, and building sports pitches for schools, clubs and communities with none of their own.

“ATLAS was started by a bunch of people who have seen how effective rugby is in tackling a range of problems. We have seen at first hand the good that the game, and the rugby family can do when it pulls together. I know that a solid prop added to a great pack will drive teams forward over any obstacles. In rugby this was match winning, in the lives of children this means winning the war against poverty, illiteracy and disease.”

-Founding Chairman, Jason Leonard OBE