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East Manchester All Schools kids head for Twickenham

08 March 2013

  • Twickenham adventure opens new horizons
  • All Schools delivering a series of "firsts"

The hugely successful All Schools rugby programme that has been impacting on 100 schools across the country in recent months has not only introduced a new group of youngsters to the rugby union game and its culture, but it has also delivered some special experiences along the way.

One of those treats will be shared by the East Manchester Academy and Bury Church of England High School on Sunday (March 10, 2013) when they play a curtain-raiser on the famous Twickenham pitch and also form the guard of honour for the England and Italy teams as they take the pitch ahead of their RBS 6 Nations Championship match.

The two schools started playing rugby union last September via the RFU’s All Schools programme, which not only gives schools who have never played the game a chance to put a toe in the water, but also brings clubs and schools closer together and forges a link that allows children to become further involved and make new friends.

Manchester Academy are working closely with East City RFC, Manchester’s newest rugby union team, while Bury Church of England School are teamed with Sedgley Park.

For many of the boys September was the first time they had seen a rugby ball and they had never held one, but the sport has brought a new dimension to the sports activities and both schools have seen a number of students joining the local clubs.

One early sign of the impact rugby’s ethos can have is in the approach of some students to discipline. “The discipline that rugby has brought to the kids is noticeable,” says Martyn Andrews, PE Teacher at Bury Church of England School. “It has been great to see the lads that were once disaffected joining in and becoming team players. I have noticed a huge difference.”

The Twickenham trip will bring a number of firsts for the students. For many, it will be their first visit to a rugby stadium, the first time they have been to London and the first time they have worn their new custom-made Canterbury shirts, which they designed as part of the All Schools Canterbury Partnership and will showcase for the first time.

“This will be the first time that most of students have been outside Manchester, so it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that rugby has offered our boys – it’s more than just playing,” said East Manchester Academy’s Head of PE, Paul Ogden.

Both schools are now looking forward to developing their programmes over the next two years and having rugby as a permanent fixture with the help of the RFU and the local delivery teams.