- Development team salute Hindley Green
- Rugby’s core values still shine through
PRISON is an environment that most people try to avoid, yet ironically, for members of the Rugby Development Team nationwide, the work that they accomplish among convicted criminals and young offenders is the most rewarding the job has to offer.
Photo: RFU archive
The recent experience shared by three Community Rugby Coaches from Greater Manchester - Josh Cammiss, Steph Veal and Jason Duffy – when they delivered a Young Leaders Award Course to inmates at Hindley Young Offenders Institute underlined the universal trend.
Hindley is the biggest Under 18 prison in the country and inmates were hand-picked by Steve Naylor, the prison Sports Educator, to attend the course and gain a qualification in leadership.
The basic skills of tackling and rucking, scrums and lineouts were always going to be a technical challenge for youngsters with no previous rugby experience, but the physicality of the sessions clearly struck a chord, even in poor weather and also on Day 2 when the after-effects of a vigorous first day were being felt. Enthusiasm was infectious and discipline exemplary and even though the bumps and bruises were came thick and fast as a result of a robust approach, the approach to learning the skills was first class.
Yet beyond the good-natured banter which young men together always generate and way in which the practical side of the week was taken up, the RFU team were struck by responsible way in which the students tackled the theory/discussion sessions. The practical issues of what leadership meant to them and how it can make a difference in their life outside of the prison were tackled with the same vigour as the physical disciplines, a feature which made an impact on Sports Educator Naylor. He was clearly impressed by the maturity shown by all of his candidates and the in-depth discussion they were involved in regarding the RFU core values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship.
The approach to the core values theme was the aspect of the programme that most impressed CRC Steph Veal, who said: “On first arrival at the prison I was very nervous - walking through a series of locked doors to do a coaching session with a group of prisoners doesn’t put a smile on your face. Yet throughout my time at Hindley Green I couldn’t help but smile at seeing the rate of improvement we witnessed from people on the scheme who were so new to the game. And how they interacted with each other, with officers and also RFU staff made you instantly forget your surroundings and made you see the group simply as players, students and team-mates.
“The five core values which rugby union embraces were there for all to see. I saw Teamwork in the way the both teams had half-time team talks together; Respect in the way players were asking for photographs with each other and with staff to demonstrate how proud they were of what they had achieved together; Enjoyment in the muddy fun they had on the final wet day; Discipline in dealing with on-field mischief; and Sportsmanship in the way the referee was treated.
“It was by far the most rewarding thing I’ve done in the job.”
“The most pleasing aspect of the whole week was seeing how our sport had gripped the minds of young lads and channelled their energies to positive outcomes.” said Jason Duffy: “The fact that over half of the candidates wanted to join a local rugby club on release shows just what an amazing impact rugby union can have on all members of society.”
Said Josh Cammiss: “This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a valuable eye opener for all involved as to the possible opportunities in this field.”
And a final word from Steve Naylor in a note to Phil Clarke, Rugby Development Officer for Manchester who was in overall charge of the scheme: “Phil please pass on my thanks to Josh, Jason and Steph - it has been a great week in which the lads worked hard and enjoyed the course. Your coaches are top class and I cannot praise them enough. We look forward to having them back in the new year.”