Grampian Schools Go For Gold

The continued growth and improvement of Grampian rugby was rewarded today as two local schools enjoyed a coaching master-class from former Scotland and British Lions prop Peter Wright.

Aberdeen Grammar School and Gordon Schools, Huntly, were treated to the opportunity as a reward for reaching the Gold Level of the Scottish Widows Bank Rugby Champions programme.

The initiative aims to increase the number and amount of rugby played in state secondary schools while rewarding the dedicated school staff who give up their spare time to take extra-curricular rugby. It also provides the school with increasing amounts of specialist rugby equipment as rugby develops at the school, in accordance with bronze, silver and gold levels of participation.

The continued growth and improvement of Grampian rugby was rewarded today as two local schools enjoyed a coaching master-class from former Scotland and British Lions prop Peter Wright.

Aberdeen Grammar School and Gordon Schools, Huntly, were treated to the opportunity as a reward for reaching the Gold Level of the Scottish Widows Bank Rugby Champions programme.

The initiative aims to increase the number and amount of rugby played in state secondary schools while rewarding the dedicated school staff who give up their spare time to take extra-curricular rugby. It also provides the school with increasing amounts of specialist rugby equipment as rugby develops at the school, in accordance with bronze, silver and gold levels of participation.

Peter Wright was joined by former Edinburgh Rugby back-row Simon Cross who attended the schools who earned the recognition through the hard work of registered Rugby Champions Graham Allardice (Gordon Schools) and Rebecca Lovie (Aberdeen Grammar) with the support of fellow staff.

Speaking from Gordon Schools in Huntly, Peter Wright, said: "Today I've been coaching some specifics of the national themes of handling, tackling and the contact area to give the boys and girls an opportunity to experience the same coaching methods used at age-grade and full international level.

"The great thing about this scheme is that it incentivises the school to get, and stay, involved in the sport and, when you have current and ex-professional and international players delivering the sessions, it can only help to sell the game even more."

Aberdeen Grammar Rugby Champion, Rebecca Lovie - whose under-18 team won the 2009/10 Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools' Bowl at Murrayfield - said: "The support from Scottish Widows Bank through Rugby Champions has helped raise the profile of rugby in Grampian schools and provided recognition for all the effort that has gone into growing the game locally. The additional kit has been of significant value to the school.

"The visit from Simon Cross is a fantastic opportunity for us to build on the success of last season and will encourage this year's under-18s to emulate their success. Continuous improvement is so important in youth rugby and hopefully the master-class will have given the players an insight into what work is needed to become better players and will ultimately allow them to become a better team."

The news comes hot on the heels of an announcement by Scottish Rugby that that the steady recovery of extra-curricular state school rugby was key to the sport's consistently increasing popularity which has seen Scottish Rugby surpass its strategic target to grow its playing base by over 50%, two years ahead of schedule.

The number of schools regularly playing the game rose from 184 in 2008 to over 240 in 2010, thanks in part to the successful state school specific programme, which rewards and supports school staff who give up their time to take extracurricular rugby while providing increasing amounts of free training kit to the school as the sport develops at the school.

The burgeoning uptake in state schools, particularly S1-S3, is crucial to the rise in the number of people playing the game at all levels where there are now 25,000 under-18s playing regular rugby compared to 15,000 just four years ago.

Scottish Rugby head of community rugby, Colin Thomson, said: "We have channelled a lot of energy into developing state school rugby, delivering over 19,000 rugby sessions to more than 180,000 primary and secondary school children in the last year alone.

"Sport can play a huge roll in the development of young people, teaching respect, self-confidence, motivation, discipline and determination, while binding social communities and offering a sense of belonging.

"This recent growth remains on a fragile footing and will take up to five years to convert into adult participation. The continued support from local and central government is vital in our efforts to keep young people fit and activate."

A Gold Rugby School would have completed the following:
Coordinate / deliver school coaching sessions at:
- S1/2, U15, Senior Boys
- Girls U15 or U18
Organise appropriate fixtures at:
- S1/2, U15, Senior Boys
- Girls attending SWRU activity
Participate in a National under-15 and under-18 competition
- Offer rugby as part of the curriculum
- Show evidence of active links to local clubs e.g. exchange of coaches, use club facilities
- Involve senior pupils in organising and coaching rugby