- Sport making a impact across whole curriculum East London inner-city state school
- “Rugby really is a game for everyone , which is why All Schools is so important” – Leonard
Jason Leonard visited Rokeby School yesterday, an East London inner-city state school where rugby was only introduced a year ago but is already making a significant impact across the whole curriculum.
With no rugby pitch in an area unfamiliar with the sport, Rokeby embraced rugby and its values through the Rugby Football Union’s All Schools programme.
Behaviour has improved as rugby has increased students’ confidence, discipline and self-esteem, as well as being something that they enjoy.
Leonard is an ambassador for All Schools, which launched in partnership with the Rugby Football Foundation and is now in its second year, aiming to take rugby to 750 state secondary schools by 2019/20. It forms a key pillar in the legacy plans for Rugby World Cup 2015 and offers each participating school a three-year support programme to enable them to start and sustain playing rugby.
The Rugby World Cup-winner met with Rokeby’s rugby team to give them some coaching tips and inspire them further with his personal rugby story and memories.
Photo: RFU Archive
Leonard said: “I didn’t go to a traditional rugby playing school, but I was lucky that when a new teacher joined he was able to introduce me to the game. Rugby really is a game for everyone of all shapes and sizes, which is why initiatives such as All Schools are so important, to give as many young people as possible the opportunity to enjoy the game and its strong values.”
The All Schools mantra is: ‘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’ and Rokeby have proved this in the past year.
Students, such as Karim Samms who have had behavioural issues in the past are now far more engaged at school. Asked how rugby has helped with his behaviour, he said: “For the first time at Rokeby School I’ve been a part of something. Instead of being in trouble and being excluded I’m part of something positive and now I behave and respect others.”
The students understand that they need to attend lessons and that the teachers expect high standards, otherwise they won’t be allowed to play rugby. In addition to this discipline they have learnt the importance of sportsmanship. No matter how hard they battle on the pitch, there is a friendly atmosphere after the match, which has helped build stronger relationships with local schools.