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Positive effect of rugby project

31st May 2007

Pupils underachieving at school say a rugby project has helped them to feel more positive about education and their futures.

A group of 13 teenagers from Glyn Derw High School in Cardiff, who were at risk of truancy, exclusion and low achievement, were picked for the Prince’s Trust XL project, which culminated in them coaching tag-rugby in a local primary school.

"The XL Club is a network of clubs running in schools all over the UK and helps re-engage 14-16 year olds. The clubs run for about three hours per week during school time, have 12-15 members and are supported by an XL Adviser. XL isn’t like school lessons. It helps make learning fun and is voluntary – students only join XL if they want to. It offers a practical way to learn new skills, plan for the future and provides a positive experience of school.

This initiative links the game of rugby to The Trust’s in-school ‘xl’ programme. The 13 Young People from Glyn Derw High School gained the Community Tag Leaders Rugby Award and took part in both the coaching and officiating of Tag Rugby.

Cardiff Blues/ Sport.Cardiff Development Officer Chris Ower said
"This initiative has been one of the best we’ve ever worked with and the students of Glyn Derw XL have been an absolute credit’. Both Nadine Griffiths and I have seen a real development in character and maturity of these young people and we have involved a number of the pupils within our Blues Community Coaching Programme’.

Sean Jones, 14, said it had made him feel more positive about school and he now hopes to become a sports coach.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said.

“It’s nice going into a primary school and coaching the younger kids. It makes you feel more responsible. I’d like to go on and train as a coach in any sport now. I think it will help me get a job doing this.

“If any other kids are offered this project, I’d say do it. It’s been great.

“We were trained to be coaches and we trained about 45 kids. It went really well.”

Sean went back to his old school Millbank Primary to coach tag rugby with fellow pupils on the course, Kirsty Trotman, Caien Osborne and Lisa Maynprize, all 15.

Lisa said, “At first they were all just messing around, but as soon as we started passing the rugby ball they started listening.

“They were nine, 10 and 11-year-olds. I think they understand teenagers more than adults. The course makes me feel I’ve achieved something.”

Kirsty said she might now find it easier to attend school regularly.

“I feel better about school now, because this course was every other day, so we got a break from school but we were doing something good.”

All said showing younger pupils how to do something made them understand more what school was about and made them feel more responsible.

The scheme is run in conjunction with the Cardiff Blues rugby development scheme and Welsh Rugby Union and rotates around schools across South Wales.

It is aimed at encouraging teamwork, leadership skills and sport. During the six-week course, the Glyn Derw group had three weeks of tag rugby coaching with the Future Blues coaches before going on to coach in primary schools. They also designed posters for the Six Nations, interviewed rugby players including Scott Quinnell and visited the Millennium Stadium. The pupils attended the course and then normal school lessons every other day.

All said they had enjoyed the sport as much as the skills they learned along with it.

“There should be more sport in school. It was great,” Sean said.

Teacher Chris Munday who joined them on the project said they had all benefited.

“They received certificates for doing the Community Tag Leader Award course.

“They had the primary pupils eating out of their hands. They were really good with them, and they worked in pairs and developed plans on how to coach them. I was there at the primary school coaching sessions the whole time, but they didn’t need me.”

Liz Jones from the WRU said, “We are very proud of all the pupils who took part. They really got so much out of the programme.”

The participants received their certificates at a special presentation and question and answer session with current injured Cardiff Blues Hooker Duane Goodfield at Llandaff Rowing Club.