- MPs in Plymouth back "All Schools" project
- Three schools in the area took part in round-robin tournament
Two Plymouth MPs have put their support behind the Rugby Football Union's (RFU) "All Schools" programme which aims to get over 1 million more schoolchildren actively involved in sport.
Alison Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, and Oliver Colvile, the Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, may have different political leanings, but both were in agreement about the benefits of school sport after a recent fact-finding visit to Tor Bridge High School in Estover, Plymouth.
The two MPs met staff and students from three Plymouth Schools that have been selected to be amongst 100 schools across England to take part in the RFU’s "All Schools" project. They saw first-hand how students from Tor Bridge High, Lipson Community College and Sir John Hunt Community Sports College (SJH) have taken to rugby and the benefits that the RFU project is delivering. Through "All Schools", these Plymouth schools will receive resource and funding over three years, including kit and equipment, as well as hands-on coaching support.
All Schools has been launched by the RFU to create a step-change in the number of secondary schools playing rugby union and give over 1 million young people opportunities to play. It forms one of the RFU’s seven legacy strands of the Rugby World Cup 2015 to deliver the greatest participation legacy for the game.
Competitive Rugby Union is currently played in around 1,500 state secondary schools. Through All Schools, the RFU aims to introduce the game into 400 non-rugby playing secondary schools by 2015 and up to 750 by 2019.
At Tor Bridge, Oliver Colvile listened to a short presentation from four members of the rugby team and was very interested to hear why they like playing rugby and what becoming involved in a new sport has meant for them.
"The more we can encourage youngsters to play sport the better”, he said. "This programme from the RFU is a good example of what can be done to not only get the students involved in sport at school, but also to provide them with opportunities to carry on playing outside school in their local communities.
“I believe that they will benefit in many ways, through increased confidence and also greater awareness of health and physical fitness, hopefully carrying that on into adulthood.”
Watching students from all three schools take part in a coaching session, Alison Seabeck was equally impressed with what she saw: “Rugby is such a great game and competitive sport is so important”, she said. “I’m really delighted to see Plymouth schools as part of the RFU’s ‘All Schools’ programme.
“I’m so pleased to see the enthusiasm the pupils have shown today” she added, “It’s very clear that there is a lot of talent to be discovered and who knows where that will lead.”
Teacher James Gill from SJH agreed: “The All Schools initiative has been a massive success for our school and has created many fantastic opportunities for the students. I truly believe that the values of rugby union have started to become embedded within the students’ philosophy: teamwork, respect, enjoyment, sportsmanship and discipline.”
Steve Grainger, the RFU Rugby Development Director, said: “Rugby union is a game for All Schools – all schools can play, all young people in the school can play and Rugby has an impact on all of the school. We want to use the once in a generation opportunity of the RWC to increase the amount of rugby in schools and encourage new players to join local clubs.”
The day at Tor Bridge ended with a series of round-robin matches between all three schools and everyone agreed that win or lose, all of the students were winners – and their glowing faces and broad smiles said it all.