Last Thursday, Ysgol Gyfun Llanhari and Corpus Christie R.C. School were treated to a regional rugby bonanza as the Blues squad divided into two and descended on each of the schools for an afternoon of rugby coaching with the future stars of the game.
The exercise was the brainchild of newly appointed regional rugby co-ordinator Allan Lewis and saw the Blues players working closely with the regional development officers in what was an afternoon of rugby that will forever stay in the minds of the youngsters who were lucky enough to be taking part.
With both events having a synchronised 3.30pm kick off the youngsters were bubbling all day at the prospect of taking part in a training session with their idols that they look up to every week from the terraces of Cardiff Arms Park. And they werent to be disappointed.
Having settled their nerves and sitting orderly in on the school rugby pitch, the pupils of Corpus Christie were introduced to the Blues representatives by gargantuan lock Craig Quinnell. It wasnt the formal affair that you might have expected as Craig quickly pointed out that the he didnt want to be called Sir or Mr Quinnell but a more familiar Craig. The same applied to the other members of the Blues squad as he introduced them by the more familiar names that they are known amongst each other. Craig said that it was essential to take this stance as the players wanted be as approachable as possible and wanted the youngsters to ask them any questions that might have about the game.
Having been divided into two groups, years 7, 8, 9 and years 10, 11, the coaching began. Whilst the younger group were being taught how to use best to use space and how to work as a team, the older group were being taught line out and passing drills by the likes of Dan Baugh, Tom Shanklin, Freddie Tuilagi, Richard Smith and Nathan Thomas.
Development Officer Gruff Rees commented, What we have happening in the region today is fantastic. To have so many of the players passing on their years of rugby playing experience is something that you cannot put price on. Its opportunities like this that can really make a difference to the development of some of these younger players.
As the sessions at both Llanhari and Corpus Christi came to a close it was obvious that the youngsters had given their all whilst trying to make an impression on the Blues players and development officers. But it did not stop them queuing up for autographs and photos as a reminder of the day that they got to play rugby with the Blues.