- Dove House spread their wings for special day at Rugby School
- School in finals of National competition at first attempt
Photo: RFU Archive
Tuesday, July 6, will be a very special day for a dozen tag rugby mad boys and girls from Basingstoke’s Dove House School in Sutton Road having battled their way through to the England RFU’s National Inclusion Tag Rugby Finals being held at the famous Warwickshire based Rugby School.
It’s a remarkable achievement for the youngsters, aged 16 and below and with moderate learning difficulties, who are playing tag rugby competitively for the first time this year.
Dove House sports master Dave North introduced the simplified version of the oval ball game - which uses rip-off Velchro tags on a belt around the midriff of the players to replace tackling - into the school just two years ago and it’s been a great success.
Having won the Southern England Inclusion competition at Basingstoke RFC’s Down Grange facilities a couple of weeks ago they automatically qualified to play in the national finals at the renowned Rugby School where, many claim, rugby union began when William Web Ellis picked up the ball and ran during a soccer match in 1823.
Relishing a special opportunity
"It means a lot to me to play at Rugby School but I’m not so sure it’s impacted on the kids," admits North. "But, I think, when they take in the grandeur of the place it’ll be interesting to see their reaction.
While his young squad came through the Southern England competition unbeaten in four games he’s obviously hoping they will do well at Rugby School while, at the same time, relish an opportunity that may not come their way again.
He says: "They are growing in confidence and have looked good but we’re going for a good day out really and to enjoy an experience they would not have otherwise had."
And, for North, there is just one other reason why he would like to see his charges do well.
"They’ve been a great bunch to work with," he says with obvious sincerity. "I’m retiring at the end of this term and this will be a nice way to finish."