Year 3 and 4 students from Holy Family, Frederick Bird, Earlsdon, St Mary’s and St Benedict’s, and John Shelton schools headed to Keresley RFC on the outskirts of Coventry to part in the festival, with Saints first teamers Luther Burrell and Tom Collins passing on their tips and presenting the silverware and medals.
In all the Northampton Saints Community team has delivered the Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme to 10 schools in the Coventry area during the Autumn term, with each school receiving a full tag rugby set, balls, session plans and other advice in how best to develop the sport.
Some of the schools who signed up to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme are in inner city Coventry, with teachers hailing the positive impact the Programme has had with children who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to play the sport.
“The children are really enjoying their tag rugby,” said Ian Allt, PE co-ordinator at St Mary’s and St Benedict’s. “It’s not a sport that they’ve known much about but they’ve really taken to it. You can see from how they’re playing today that the skills that they’ve learned and the experiences of playing in matches is a positive for them.
“When you’re in a primary school, most of the teachers’ specialities don’t lie within PE, so to get an expert come in and teach a sport to a high level you not only get the children enjoying it but also the kind of coaching that you might not otherwise get.”
Emily Marlow, Year 3 and 4 phase leader at St Mary’s and St Benedict’s, added: “We brought some of our Year 3s here today, and they’d never played tag rugby before until the last few weeks. They were really enthusiastic on the way over.
“It’s really important for them to be healthy and active, and to learn the other skills that come with rugby, like good sportsmanship, working together as a team, and the strategies that they’ve picked up. It’s about more than just being active.”
Frederick Bird took home the silverware after going through the entire festival unbeaten, and after presenting the trophy Burrell said that it was important for professional players and clubs to be involved with grassroots initiatives like the Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme.
“We’ve all been here as kids and it’s important to get yourself out and enjoying yourself when you’re at a young age,” he commented. “It also brings you together as friends. There are schools here today from all over the district. They didn’t know each other before, but by the end of the day they’ve got to know each other and hopefully made some new friends through rugby.”
Ben Mann, one of the Saints’ community officers, co-ordinates the delivery of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme, and he said that the last few weeks in Coventry have been a real eye-opener.
“Troy Perkins has worked really hard with the schools in Coventry and we’re delighted with how the Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme has been received,” he said. “Some of the schools are in very deprived areas and the kids had not previously had the opportunity to play tag rugby, or indeed many other sports either.
“The teachers from the schools involved have been really positive, but more importantly you could see from the festival today how much the youngsters have enjoyed being a part of the Programme.
“Hopefully this term is the first of many in the city.”