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Irlam & Cadishead College join Manchester RU family

17 July 2013

  • Development work pays early dividends
  • College warms to first taste of rugby union
Irlam & Cadishead College players

Photo: RFU Archive

Irlam & Cadishead College does not yet feature prominently in the annals of school rugby union in Greater Manchester, but the success of a recent tie-up with the Rugby Football Union has brought major dividends which point to a long-term association being established.

As is often the case, staff changes in the PE department were the catalyst for the arrival of rugby union into the school, the initial contacts with the RFU development staff and the local club, Eccles RUFC, bringing RFU support in the shape of a £1,000 grant to give rugby a foothold in the curriculum.

That introduction came in the shape of touch rugby for boys and girls as the college embraced rugby union for the first time thanks to the efforts of PE teacher Mandy Bawden, who has been instrumental in getting the game established.

Contact with the RFU’s Rugby Development Officer for Greater Manchester, Andrew Soutar, followed and that in turn brought Sam Simpson, a casual RFU coach from nearby Eccles RUFC, into the school, not simply to work with the boys, but also to provide the girls with a taste of what the burgeoning women and girls’ game has to offer.

The RFU grant was spent on kit, equipment and will also be used for transport costs in the coming season.

The coaches provided training and coaching sessions for girls in Years 7, 8 and 10 and as a result of the grant aid, coaching has also been delivered to 6th form students, mostly in Year 12.

“The school has welcomed the opportunity to have a rugby coach in school with open arms, especially where the girls are concerned,” said RDO Soutar.

“Due to the coaching that has taken place the girls have entered into a variety of competitions, among them Year 7/8, 10/11 rugby tournaments held by the RFU at St Mary’s RC High school and Tyldesley RFC, where they took part in several contact games, with the Year 7/8 girls making it to the final.

“The Year 7/8 girls have also taken part in a Borough Contact Rugby festival alongside two other schools and most recently the same group won a place at the Greater Manchester Summer Games Tag Rugby competition after winning the Borough Tag Rugby festival held at Eccles RFC.”   

As a result of the rugby and the success the girls have had, Bawden is looking to take her Level 1 Rugby Coaching course in order for her to teach rugby within the PE curriculum and she is also hoping to get the girls involved in more RFU games and festivals in the future. 

The successful partnership has resulted in at least seven girls becoming members of Eccles RFC, where they train regularly with the club’s Under 13 team.

“The rugby option has also been warmly received by the 6th Form boys, who were a little apprehensive as the school is predominantly a footballing school,” said Mrs Bawden. “However, Sam (Simpson) has done a fantastic job with the boys and there are a number of students that are looking to continue their involvement with rugby at Eccles RFC. 

“We have also been in touch with the Colleges Development Officer Josh Cammiss about future fixtures and we have entered a team in the Greater Manchester Developing Colleges League next season.

“Our Head Teacher, Mr John Ferguson, is very keen for the rugby to continue for both girls and the boys. He is always enthusiastic about new sporting ventures and due to the success and take-off of rugby union he is looking forward to more success next year!

“The school is predominantly a footballing school, although there has always been rugby on the curriculum and teams have taken part in rugby competitions, although the format has more often than not been rugby league.

“Now, rugby union has seen a re-birth and hopefully it will continue to blossom, especially among the girls, who have shown real enthusiasm for the sport.” 


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