Rugby legacy lives on in Newcastle as Maggie Alphonsi makes a special visit to support more schools picking up the ball
Rugby legacy lives on across the country. 400 pupils in years 9-10 from 21 schools in Newcastle upon Tyne took part in a special event to showcase the regions rugby skills on Thursday 8 October
Out of the 400 students who took to the playing field at Bullocksteads Sports Ground to play a series of 10 a-side matches, 240 (12 schools) were showcasing their new rugby skills after beginning their journey as new rugby playing schools, fully embracing the new sport and ethos that rugby union brings.
The event was organised to celebrate the successes of All Schools. With the arrival of the new school term, England Rugby, with the support of CBRE, have reached their goal of 400 non-playing state secondary schools to be rugby playing schools by this year’s tournament.
The legacy won’t stop with the Final whistle of the tournament. The next try-line is to have another 350 schools take up rugby union by 2019, which will take the total number to 750 schools and leaving a positive legacy for one million children.
All Schools has made a real impact at the participating schools in the region, including Churchill Community College and Burnside Business College, which were some of the first 100 schools to join the programme in 2012. Rugby is now an integral part of the school’s curriculum and a permanent fixture on the PE programme.
Nick Storey, PE teacher at Ashington High School commented: “Introducing rugby to our pupils has given them the opportunity to develop skills that will last them a lifetime and will be beneficial in both work and play. They can learn a great deal from rugby players as role models – they build their game and competitiveness on the pitch, but shake hands and leave any aggression behind when they leave the pitch. We’ve seen a remarkable difference in the attitudes of many students since playing rugby and we’re looking forward to continuing the programme and giving younger pupils the same opportunity.”
Linked to more than 140 community rugby clubs, over 60% of All Schools are running a mixed or girls’ programme, with 35% of all the players female. More than 130,000 students took part last season and many have joined a local rugby club and are playing regularly with them. More than 600 teachers were also trained as coaches and match officials.
Crucially research conducted by Sheffield Hallam University on behalf of England Rugby has shown that 65% of young people taking part in All Schools are more confident as a result.
Elliot Cowie, a student at St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy said: “I’d always been a football fan until I started playing rugby with All Schools. I’ve loved following the World Cup and playing our own rugby matches at school. I’d never really played before but because of the programme, my fitness and strength are so much better than they were when I first started and it’s also helped with other important skills like teamwork. You never know the sort of opponent you’ll be up against, so you really have to work together as a team to defeat them.”
Maggie Alphonsi MBE, Womens Rugby World Cup champion and All Schools ambassador commented: “It’s essential that children have access to and are engaged with sport. Rugby in particular helps to develop key skills that are instrumental in developing a child’s outlook, confidence and teamwork. Events like these are a fantastic opportunity to inspire the next generation of rugby players and will help prepare them for challenges they’ll face both on and off the pitch.”