Ian Swales MP applauded an initiative by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) that aims to get one million schoolchildren actively involved in rugby after watching youngsters in action at Redcar Academy, Teesside, on Friday (February 28).
Mr Swales watched a practice session played by 30 Year 9 boys and girls – most of them brand new to rugby this season – at Redcar Academy, which is one of 200 establishments around England participating in the RFU’s flagship All Schools programme.
Mr Swales found out first-hand the positive effect rugby is having on students at Redcar, in an area which also boasts one of the strongest Junior Football Clubs in the country.
“I really enjoyed the visit to Redcar Academy to watch the students play rugby. Having had a chat with some of the teachers and pupils, I can see that the work being done by the RFU on the All Schools programme is making a huge difference to young people in our area.
“Not only is taking part in sporting activities great for the health and wellbeing of students, it is also great for their personal development and I was very impressed by the students I met.”
“Rugby is well known for its values of respect and discipline, and talking to the staff at Redcar they have noticed a change in behaviour in many students taking the game up,” said Mr Swales.
All Schools has been launched by the RFU to create a step-change in the number of secondary schools playing rugby union. It forms one of the RFU’s seven legacy strands of the Rugby World Cup 2015 to deliver the greatest participation legacy for the game.
Competitive rugby union is currently played in around 1500 state secondary schools. Through All Schools, the RFU aims to introduce the game into 400 non-rugby playing secondary schools by 2015 and up to 750 by 2019.
Redcar and fellow All Schools Bydales and Rye Hills School will receive resource and funding over three years, including kit and equipment, as well as hands-on coaching support led by the Community Rugy Coach (CRC) Richie Young.
All three schools are attending a Year 10 Boys Sevens Festivals on Friday 7 March at Newcastle Falcons followed by setting a Guard of Honour for the England U20 match v Wales U20.
The session Ian Swales MP took part in was led by Redcar Academy PE teacher Tom Williams, who said: “The introduction of rugby through the RFU’s All Schools programme has been a tremendous success. The students have really enjoyed the extra opportunities that have been made available to them.”
“We now have an after-school rugby club every Wednesday (Girls), Thursday (Boys), and those who show an aptitude for the game are encouraged to join the local club.
“There’s a broad range of Year 7, 8 and 9 students getting involved, and they are not all regular sports players. Rugby can be played by all shapes and sizes, unlike some other games.
“The behaviour of two or three of the students who have got into rugby has improved significantly as rugby channels their energy and gives them focus. The personal discipline and self-motivation, and being part of a team, has allowed these boys and girls to take this into their school life and make a positive change.”
The pupils were also looking smart in their new Canterbury kit which students get to design themselves at a workshop run by Canterbury, the official partner of the All Schools programme.
Alec Porter, Rugby Development Officer for the RFU in North Yorkshire and Teesside, explained to Ian Swales MP how the All Schools programme is working in the county. It includes Porter mentoring and supporting the Redcar teachers and Club Coaches with the next step to guide them on to RFU coaching courses. In February a Rugby Ready Course was held at Redcar RFC attended by 4 Club Coaches, 5 teachers and 8 Young leaders’ both boys and girls from Year 9.
Steve Grainger, the RFU Rugby Development Director and also former pupil at Saltscar School in Redcar said: “Rugby union is a game for All Schools – all schools can play, all young people in the school can play and Rugby has an impact on all of the school. We want to use the once in a generation opportunity of the Rugby World Cup being hosted in England to increase the amount of rugby in schools and encourage new players to join local clubs.”
About the Rugby Football Union (RFU)
The Rugby Football Union is the National Governing Body for rugby union in England and supports participants and fans from the grassroots to the national team. For more information visit www.rfu.com
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