- Rugby Union back at Whitcliffe Mount School
- School will link up with local rugby club
The RFU's All Schools Rugby Football Union project is helping to bring the 15-a-side code back to Whitcliffe Mount School - where England legend Jeff Butterfield started out.
The West Yorkshire school was where the 28-times capped England and British Lions player first made his mark en route to a rugby career which made him a living legend at Northampton Saints.
Nor was Butterfield the only England player among the Whitcliffe Mount alumni. Scrum-half Roger Pickering won six England caps from 1967-'68, as well as playing for the Barbarians.
Few schools starting out on the All Schools path will have that kind of background, but the record books underline that the All Schools partnership of Whitcliffe Mount and Cleckheaton RFC – which also nurtured the early days of Steve Burnhill and John Bentley - really has an impressive Rugby Union pedigree.
Whitcliffe is among 100 specially selected secondary schools nationwide to become involved with the All Schools initiative. The ambitious programme will see the RFU team deliver Rugby Union across the Year Seven and Eight curriculum timetable.
The school has also formalised the School-Club link with Cleckheaton RUFC which will encourage students to take the next step of the Rugby Union journey and play competitively in the junior section sides on a Sunday morning. The rugby club is also offering the use of its facilities for upcoming school games.
Andy Clark, Junior Chairman at Cleckheaton RUFC, said: “I attended the third session for Year 7s and 8s recently and gave a brief talk on what CRUFC had to offer. The lads who were training all enjoyed the session and we look to have some real talent amongst them and hopefully we will get a good number coming down to play with us at the weekend.”
Mr Hirst, Head of PE at Whitcliffe Mount, said: “This is an exciting time for the school, with our first school game for the Year 7/8 lads an important milestone for the All Schools project. It’s great that rugby union is returning to Whitcliffe Mount School and it is great to see so many ex-Whitcliffe students playing senior rugby down at Cleckheaton. Now we are hoping that this RFU scheme will bring the next generation of players to the club.”
“The All Schools project is about developing links between the RFU, clubs and schools and this Whitcliffe Mount success is a perfect example of what we are seeking to achieve across the country,” said the RFU’s West Yorkshire Rugby Development Officer Hamish Pratt.
“It’s a great partnership and hopefully it will help rugby grow again and regain the school’s famous heritage.”