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RFU's All Schools programme brings rugby back to Oakbank School

06 November 2012

  • Oakbank School to reintroduce rugby thanks to All School programme
  • Twickenham trip a boost for pupils

A visit to Twickenham on Saturday for the England v Fiji QBE International will cement the return of rugby union to Oakbank School, Keighley.

In a former life as Keighley Boys’ Grammar School, rugby union was the winter sport of choice which eventually gave rise to the foundation of an ‘old boys’ club: the Keighlians RUFC - which later changed its name to Keighley RUFC when the school connection wilted.

The catalyst for the return of rugby union has been the school’s selection among a group of 100 schools in the RFU’s All Schools programme - an on-going project in Keighley which embraces RFU Development staff, Keighley RUFC volunteers and the school sports staff.

The Rugby Football Union this week formally announced its All Schools programme: a new initiative aimed at introducing rugby into 400 non-rugby-playing schools before Rugby World Cup 2015 and up to 750 by 2019.

The All Schools project aims to offer opportunities to more than one million youngsters to play rugby by delivering a package of resources within schools who have been linked to a local club in clusters across England.

All Schools, which is part of the RFU’s Rugby World Cup legacy plans, is already being rolled out in 41 Northern schools, with Oakbank among the first group.

Coaching support has been delivered at Oakbank since September and the first milestone on the journey was the school’s hosting of a triangular tournament involving Ilkley Grammar and Titus Salt High School in Saltaire.

The Twickenham trip is a bonus for the school which will involve them playing a game against Isleworth and Syon School at Grasshoppers RFC on Friday before enjoying the unique experience of a Twickenham stadium tour on match day and watching the international.  

“The Oakbank story is really good and their trip to Twickenham is a special extra treat,” said Hamish Pratt, the RFU Rugby Development Officer for West Yorkshire and one of the coaches involved at the school.

“Ian Simons from the Keighley club has been coaching during and after school, along with me and Dave Duxbury and there’s a real buzz about the rugby programme. Obviously having keen rugby union folk like Headmaster David Maxwell and Deputy Saira Luffman supporting the return of rugby union has been the key to success, with the backing of the RFU All Schools scheme giving the school a real boost.”

Michael Derrick, Head of PE at Oakbank, said: “We had good success at rugby league last season, reaching a couple of Bradford Schools finals, so there is a core of players who enjoy playing rugby. The arrival of the rugby union coaching has brought a few more into the group and they’ve been doing really well.

“Ian (Simons) has been doing a really good job in giving specific rugby union organisation and structure to our coaching and I know he was very pleased at the way we performed as a team against Ilkley and Salts.

“It’s great to have both rugby codes now running and for me to be involved with the lads in their rugby. It certainly helps inter-action with them when I’m working with them in other disciplines. That’s an important element that rugby brings into school.

“As for the trip to Twickenham, many of the lads who are going have never been to London -never mind Twickenham - so staying in a nice hotel and playing a game against a school they’ve never heard of at a club they don’t know is a huge adventure that everyone is looking forward to.”