CHESTER, England, November 5, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Saracens captain and England rugby star Steve Borthwick, one of the sport's best known figures, has launched Tackling Numbers in association with MBNA, a ground-breaking campaign teaching basic mathematics to thousands of schoolchildren in England.

Rugby star Borthwick joined Europe's largest credit card lender MBNA and Premiership Rugby to begin the national roll out of the project, which uses the power of rugby to promote the understanding and learning of numeracy among seven to nine year olds.

Yesterday Steve joined pupils at Roe Green Junior School in Wembley, London to help teachers deliver a maths lesson with a difference.

Steve Borthwick, Saracens captain and England rugby star, said: Rugby is a fantastic way of getting young people engaged with maths and numeracy. It is great fun and a brilliant way of tying the classroom to the sports pitch. Maths and basic financial literacy are so important and Tackling Numbers helps bring them to life. I just wish my maths classes had taken place on the rugby pitch when I was at school.

The launch event marked the beginning of the Tackling Numbers campaign, delivered by Chester-based MBNA, Premiership Rugby and all Premiership Rugby's 12 clubs. It is anticipated to reach more than 800 primary schools in England over the next three years.

Launching the scheme, Steve not only demonstrated his teaching skills but he was also able to offer some valuable rugby playing tips to the youngsters.

Ian O'Doherty, Europe Card executive for Bank of America Europe Card Services, which operates the MBNA brand, said: We are delighted that Steve Borthwick, a hero for many young rugby fans across the country, is supporting the launch of Tackling Numbers.

We must equip young people with the knowledge and tools to help them manage their money in the future - and how better to do that than to engage them in mathematics in a practical and enjoyable way, with some of the stars of English rugby. We hope this programme provides the foundation for good financial literacy in adulthood and a memorable experience which will last them a lifetime.

The five week programme, aimed at Year 4 pupils, uses both interactive classroom sessions and practical fun number-based rugby games to help children tackle mathematic problems.

Sarah Mason, AST Mathematics (BSC HONS PGCE), who helped MBNA and Premiership Rugby develop the programme, said: Being numerate is, beyond doubt, an essential skill for all pupils to leave school with.

We ensure that pupils are given the passion and encouragement to continue to improve their mathematics at an early age; this can be achieved by creating more exciting and accessible ways of learning.

Mathematics is used daily in all walks of life and rugby union is a fantastic medium to show pupils how important and fun it can be.

Wayne Morris, Head of Community at Premiership Rugby added: Rugby has long been seen as a social game that unites and brings people together. In more recent years rugby's ability to engage with children is being used to transcend into the classroom.

The Tackling Numbers Programme utilises the power of rugby to promote the understanding and learning of numeracy in a fun and enjoyable way. The classroom sessions are supported by practical PE sessions that unite an active mind with an active body.

The key aims of the project are to improve young people's understanding of the importance of basic financial and numeracy skills; while increasing physical exercise and activity amongst young people.

The work will count as a contribution towards the five hour offering of high quality PE and sport.

MBNA, a Bank of America company, has funded Tackling Numbers through its Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

About MBNA

Chester-based MBNA is a Bank of America company and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation . MBNA supports a range of initiatives that are helping children to improve their numeracy, teenagers to understand the way finance works and adults to receive the support they need to help them improve their financial situation. For more information, visit the company's website

Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy

Building on a long-standing tradition of investing in the communities it serves, last year Bank of America embarked on a ten-year goal to donate US$2 billion to non-profit organisations engaged in improving the health and vitality of their neighbourhoods. The company's associate volunteers contributed more than 800,000 hours in 2009 to enhance the quality of life in their communities world-wide. For more information about Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy, please visit

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SOURCE: MBNA Europe Bank Ltd

CONTACT: Gary Jenkins, Vice President, Communications; Bank of AmericaEurope Card Services;Tel: +44(0)1244-574136; Mobile: +44(0)7825-721118; Fax: +44(0)1244-672468Email: