Club School Links award 2007/08
Mitcham Bulls RFC (Surrey)
Bulls Rugby Club is a small Youth rugby club based on the St Helier Estate in Carshalton, South London. The senior branch of the club, Mitcham RUFC, plays in Surrey 3. In order to establish a Mini and Youth section, Bulls Rugby attempted to introduce the sport to a non rugby playing community through its local schools. To this end, the club has now created rugby programmes for primary and secondary schools, for both boys and girls.
Bulls Rugby have set up a primary schools ‘PE time’ and an after school Tag rugby coaching programme that has reached over twenty schools in the last year. This programme is predominantly staffed by club volunteers and is backed up by regular primary school competitions for boys and girls in years 3-4, 5-6 and girls only in year 5-6. In addition, Bulls Rugby coach and manage the Merton and Sutton London Youth Games year 5-6 Tag rugby teams. They have also engaged a part time Community Rugby Coach (CRC) to help deliver this programme using a large majority of club profits.
Bulls Rugby have introduced rugby to nine local secondary schools and provide playing facilities free of charge to all these schools as none of them have rugby pitches. They also assist with the coaching of rugby in a number of other schools. In order to make rugby a genuine option in the local schools, the club has created a Secondary Schools League for Year 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. The leagues include a number of Croydon schools and are divided into two groups. Players from local schools are encouraged to join Bulls Rugby, while players from the Croydon or Cheam area are encouraged to join their local clubs (Croydon and Sutton & Epsom). All of this activity has enabled the club to build a Youth section with two U16 teams, an U14 team, a nascent U13 team and an emerging U12 team.
In the past year, Bulls Rugby also introduced rugby to girls at five local secondary schools through PE and after school clubs; enabling the club to create an U18 and U15 girls team. This activity has meant that the club is now proposing to organise a girl’s 7-a-side rugby tournament for secondary schools this summer with a view to creating a league from September.
To consolidate rugby in the local schools, the club also host training courses (tag and non-award) at Mitcham RFC, to which they invite and fund the places of local primary and secondary school teachers. They also provide a basic Tag Rugby kit to all of the primary schools that they coach and make it a requirement of their coaching that schools agree to play in the leagues that they have created. For secondary schools, they provide playing and changing facilities, with a number of schools now trusted with full keys and access to the club and floodlit training/match pitch.
The club believes that it is creating a sustainable model for club/school rugby development. Every boys secondary school in the catchment area now plays rugby whereas three years ago only one did. The primary schools now play Tag rugby and this feeds players (both boys and girls) into the secondary schools, again supporting secondary school rugby.