- All Schools programme offers new experience in
- Staff and pupils enjoying fresh learning curve
Photo: RFU Archive
A major investment by the Rugby Football Union in exposing new schools to the 15-a-side game is paying dividends across the country, with a cluster of three schools in Rugby League hotbed Hull delivering an excellent opportunity for young people to try the game for the first time and see what it has to offer.
The three inner-city schools selected in the 100 chosen nationwide to be part of the ambitious All Schools Programme are Kelvin Hall, Trinity Academy and St Marys College, all schools which have seen only modest rugby union activity over the years, but which were felt suitable for a new investment of time and resources.
The results of the programme on Humberside have been impressive, with around 730 youngsters in the Year 7 to Year 11 age groups now attending sessions.
The initiative is being piloted across 100 city schools and provides the strongest support mechanism ever delivered by the RFU to schools needing help to give rugby a foothold.
The three schools involved are located within striking distance of Hull RUFC, which has a developing mini/junior set up and is closely involved in the project, providing a brace of RFU Level 2 qualified coaches to work in the schools and making their facilities available for Trinity Academy.
The enthusiasm for the scheme is reflected in the fact that around 60 of the 240 players involved at Trinity make the trip to the Ferens Ground for coaching, while at Kelvin Hall 250 of the Year 7/8 are involved and 240 are getting their first serious taste of rugby union coaching at St Marys College.
The programme involves seven weeks of coaching in curriculum time for the Year 7-10 pupils, as well as offering them a chance to explore further playing opportunities outside school time at Hull RUFC.
“With Rugby League having dominance in the majority of Hull Schools we wanted to educate the students and give them the opportunity to experience the benefits which Rugby Union can offer,” said Tom Dawson, the Master in Charge who is leading the project at Trinity. "The All Schools programme has provided us with a chance to collaborate with highly-qualified and experienced coaches and deliver the sport in a well-structured and organised series of sessions catering from Year 7 through to Year 11, with activities adapted appropriately.
"Competitive fixtures have been arranged on our behalf with other local schools participating in the programme and while the adverse weather has prevented them from going ahead, we hope to follow these up after the Christmas break.
“The majority of students have gained an insight into an alternative code of rugby and have had their perceptions of the sport changed for the better. The enjoyment factor has been high and students have enjoyed the 'learning through playing' approach in which the sessions have been tailored to.
"Members of staff have also benefitted from the opportunity and have used the programme to develop drills and activities to take into future sessions and different sports.
“The organisation, communication and support from the RFU and its affiliated coaches this has been exemplary, with regular conversations about how the sessions are going, enjoyment factor, kit orders etc.. - nothing seems to have been too much hassle.
“The equipment we received from the RFU has been exceptional, especially as we are a relatively small school with a limited budget for the purchase of sport specific equipment. Furthermore, we have received two sets of shirts and a third kit, which has been designed and personalised by students at our school, which has been a fantastic opportunity to engage the students and give them a kit they can be proud of.”
Programme Leader Greg Bone added: “I strongly believe that many students have gained enjoyment, appreciation and an understanding in a short time of a sport very few of them knew anything about and has encouraged some of them to consider the opportunities to participate in rugby union at club level.
"The RFU All Schools input gives us the time and resources to go into schools and really set our stall out to give the kids a real chance to find out what rugby union is about.
“The reception we’ve had from the children and the staff, who are obviously key to the continuing development of the game in these schools, has been excellent and the whole programme has been very satisfying.
“School sport is very much governed by schools having staff who are interested and have the knowledge to coach and budgets to support a particular sport. The All Schools programme is a three-year project which will hopefully give pupils and the staff in a rugby city a chance to become properly acquainted with the game and to see whether they want to take it forward.
“Already the activity has helped to form Under 12 and Under 13 teams at all three schools, which is very encouraging.”