Why was Atlas started?

As an international rugby player I have been fortunate to travel the world and my playing career has taken me to some amazing corners of the planet.

However, on these trips I often encountered severe poverty in some of the most deprived communities on the earth on these trips.

Seeing this, and meeting people from these communities, it inspired me to give back and try and help where possible.

In the UK, I had always been given great opportunities to support numerous charities, and I have run my own Annual Charity Dinner for 20 years choosing a different charity beneficiary every year.

In 2014, I decided to set up my own charity, The Atlas Foundation, and since then I have dedicated my time and energy to supporting children in abject poverty and danger around the world.

Whilst we have already made a real difference to a host of projects, there is still so much to do so please do come and join us in our quest to help the world’s poorest kids thrive through the power of rugby.

– Jason Leonard, Atlas founder and Chairman


A Potted History of Atlas

Edited highlights from our short but productive existence


    • Several successful events ran, including House of Lords Dinners, our Annual Golf day, a Fidelity Velodrome event, as well as the Winchester Ball.


    • After the pandemic, several successful events ran, including 4 exclusive House of Lords dinners, Annual Golf Day, Tour of Cambridgeshire cycling event, Winchester Christmas Ball, Fidelity Velodrome event, and a dinner for our co-existence programme in Israel.
    • Atlas Trustee and Rugby Champion, Maro Itjoe, visited projects in Kenya
    • Atlas CEO visited projects in South Africa, Kenya, and India


    • Atlas expands to 43 projects in 17 countries, directly supporting 75,000 children
    • In person events cancelled due to Covid-19, but the first virtual fundraiser was a great success, and raised over £45,000 for the Atlas DigiBus in South Africa


    • Atlas All Schools programme in Asia, South Africa, and the Americas expanded to benefit 61,000 children, working with them regularly to ensure the programme had long lasting impacts.
    • Atlas USA established.
    • Events planned, including Kenya Trek, golf day, and cycling events, cancelled due to Covid-19


    • First event in South Africa, the Cape Town Cycle Tour with SA Rugby Champions John Smit and Percy Montgomery, and the future Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.
    • Nicholson Memorial Fund established to bring positive change across Asia following a devastating tragedy; it is the largest private fund ever for Atlas, raising over £100,000 in a few weeks, and aiming for £200,000 by end of November.


    • Record income and record number of projects and children supported.
    • Atlas All Schools expanded to 20 schools in Buenos Aires.
    • Atlas France is legally established, and Atlas South Africa opens.


    • £300,000 raised of which 80% allocated to charity work
    • Atlas All Schools Programme developed and early projects established in South Africa and Israel
    • Atlas ‘Private Funds’ developed with Rugby Clubs, Schools and Families


    • Early project grants are made for £180,000 to 10 grassroots projects over three years
    • First UK cycle and golf events
    • Rugby Champions grow to 24


    • First major fundraiser, the World Cup Warriors dinner, raises over £100,000
    • Logo created
    • First 10 Rugby Champions join and start developing projects overseas


    • The Atlas Foundation legally established but not active