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School Development award 2008/09

Winner: The Buchan School (Isle Of Man, Cheshire RFU)

Steve Cope, who nominated Buchan School said; “I would like to nominate the Buchan School on the Isle of Man, for its efforts to introduce rugby to both boys and girls from the age of 5 – 11.

“I, along with several other parents, took our sons to the local rugby club in 2006 only to be sent away as they felt that they were too young to play Tag rugby. Subsequently, we set up our own coaching at the school and invited boys and girls from that particular age group to come and enjoy playing Tag rugby related activities on a Saturday morning at the school. This proved highly successful and enjoyable for all; players, coaches and parents. Subsequently each year another age group was added and since then we have built up our numbers training on a Saturday and now have U6, 7, 8 and 9 teams who regularly play against the local rugby clubs on the Isle of Man as there are no other Primary Schools that offer contact rugby (U9 level). Many of these youngsters would not have taken up the game of rugby had it not been for this development. We have also encouraged six of the parents to get actively involved by attending Level One or Tag Rugby Coaching Courses”.

“The success of the Saturday morning rugby 'club' has also led to the employment of a specialist PE teacher, Mr. Neil McGregor, at the school who has further successfully developed rugby at the school by setting up teams at U10 and U11 level. Other schools have been actively encouraged to visit the Buchan School to play and reciprocal arrangements have been put into place, so much so that last year the U11 mixed tag team reached the finals of the RFU Schools Tag competition at Rugby School. From small beginnings, rugby at this outpost of the Isle of Man has flourished through the efforts of initially parents but latterly, teachers alike - thereby increasing, substantially, the numbers of boys and girls participating in the game”.

“School rugby here on the Isle of Man is difficult due to our geographical isolation but we do not believe in sitting back, instead we actively seek to travel to and organise for other teams to visit us here. An example of the effort is the participation of the U9 team in the Anglo Welsh Rugby Festival at Wrexham RUFC in April at no inconsiderable cost to parents”.

Runner Up: John Grant Special School (Eastern Counties RFU)

This project started at the end of January 2009 and was delivered to 14 FE students (16–18yrs) ranging from MLD (Moderate Learning Difficulties) to SLD (Severe Learning Difficulties); some also with physical disabilities.

Penny Chapman, Community Rugby Coach (CRC) for Norfolk worked with the school to deliver a two hour session once a week. The first hour and a half was spent either in the classroom or in the school gym working on the modules of the CSLA (Community Sports Leader Award) programme including: Communication skills, Leadership skills, Health & Safety, Session planning & Introduction to Rugby Skills (Non Contact). The programme is supported by three members of staff from the unit, who support the less able in the group. A 30 minute rugby lunch club is then run for the younger MLD pupils at the school with assistance from the more able CSLA students.

This course, run for ordinary students, would normally involve 5 hours instruction followed by a commitment to 8 hours community volunteering. Because of the special needs of these students this course takes considerably longer.

All students worked hard to attain the award but the more able also had the opportunity to use their new gained Sports Leader skills to assist in the delivery of a five week rugby programme that took place at The University of East Anglia (UEA) Sports Park at the end of April. SLD children from all Norfolk special schools were invited to participate. The programme finished in early June with a small conditioned games/activities competition. At least six of the more able CSLA students attended this programme on a weekly basis to assist with others attending at least one session each. 

This project was a partnership between the RFU and local School Sports Partnership (SSP). The driving force behind the project was Partnership Development Manager, Richard Grove with the project funded by the school and the SSP.

The positive impact that the programme had on the students was noted by the staff at the school. They felt that the students really enjoy both the practical and theory sessions and for many it improved their confidence, self esteem and behaviour. The benefits extended to other areas of their schooling and social activities. The long term aim is to introduce the students to local rugby club activities. This is an enormous challenge that if successful will break down barriers and provide a level of inclusion never seen previously.

Runner up: Sir William  Ramsay School

John Connaughton, who nominated Sir William Ramsay School said; “Students at Sir William Ramsay School aspire to be team players and developing rugby would create enjoyment, discipline and values, not only on a sporting level, but through the whole school community”.

“I have led the initiative to develop rugby at Sir William Ramsay: my aim is to emphasise fun, activity, education, teamwork and self-discipline within a professional, safe and rewarding environment. We have had enormous success to date; two teams have competed in the National Emerging Schools Competition: the Year 8 squad won their County and Regional finals, winning the Fair Play award, and came 3rd in the Nationals. The Girls Tag Rugby team also achieved entry into the Bucks Youth Games last year”.

“Recently, rugby has grown exponentially at Sir William Ramsay; we have increased links with London Wasps through coaching in lessons, coachHclass sessions for underprivileged students and their involvement in our Sports Day. Such benefits to the school ensure that more opportunities will be available in the future. Male and female students have been inspired to join the local High Wycombe Rugby Club as links have been created through our development of rugby days with another local school; we are also organising a tournament to populate the sport locally”.

“Our vision for rugby at Sir William Ramsay is exciting and innovative; not only will we continue our ‘fair play’, ensuring respectful young gentlemen as role models for overall school behaviour, but we also want to create more opportunities. Our students are hungering for experience; they requested we join the waiting list for the renowned Rosslyn Park Sevens, a competition that would really push our team”.

“Further developments include entry into HSBC rugby festivals and our first ever tour, planned in 2010, proves that rugby will continue to be a high profile development for Sir William Ramsay.  We’re continually training the squads in innovative ways; squads attend fitness sessions held at the school to work on unity and outside coaches are used on a regular basis. Further opportunities, such as a rugby trip to Twickenham to watch the BUCS Finals, trips to Wasps games, and more coaching sessions from Wasps/High Wycombe RFU Community coaches will enable us to continue to inspire many people to take up the sport; we have helped over 20 players to join local clubs in the past two years alone”.

“Unfortunately, further expansion and development is greatly hindered by our lack of resources; we only have one kit for four year groups through sponsors. By investing in Sir William Ramsay, you can be sure that the money will not only benefit the students; the community would also be involved”.


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