First Scottish School Of Rugby Unveiled

A groundbreaking initiative, operated in partnership with Scottish Rugby and East Ayrshire Council, has created Scotland’s first “Schools of Rugby” which embed daily rugby sessions into the school curriculum.

Supported by local clubs Kilmarnock and Cumnock, the “Schools of Rugby” (Cumnock and Grange Academies) will give the new intake of pupils the opportunity to participate in more during school hours, combining the outdoor sessions with in-class activity, structured to develop the social, academic and sporting abilities of the participants.

Scotland centre, Graeme Morrison, gets in on the act
A groundbreaking initiative, operated in partnership with Scottish Rugby and East Ayrshire Council, has created Scotland’s first “Schools of Rugby” which embed daily rugby sessions into the school curriculum.

Supported by local clubs Kilmarnock and Cumnock, the “Schools of Rugby” (Cumnock and Grange Academies) will give the new intake of pupils the opportunity to participate in more during school hours, combining the outdoor sessions with in-class activity, structured to develop the social, academic and sporting abilities of the participants.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill, who attended an open evening at the school last night (Tuesday 7 September) to see some of the programme in action, said: “Sport contributes to the health and well-being of young people and the investment in Schools of Rugby is an excellent example of how Cashback for Communities is making a positive impact.

“Scottish Rugby, the local clubs and officials associated with Schools of Rugby, are to be congratulated for their efforts to improve the quality of rugby in this country long-term, by coming up with innovative ideas to develop our younger players.

“By taking funds from the ill-gotten gains of crime and putting it back into our communities, we are making them safer, and offering young people opportunities that steer them away from getting involved in drink or drugs.”

The programme supports the Scottish Rugby Long Term Player Development Strategy with pupils participating in a variety of national development themes from catching and passing to lifestyle management and nutrition.

Councillor Douglas Reid, the leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “I am delighted that East Ayrshire Council is the first local authority in Scotland to be delivering this exciting programme.

“Not only will it develop excellent rugby players but it will also help promote the benefits of physical activity and develop positive attitudes from those participating.”

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill
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.

The number of schools regularly playing the game rose from 184 in 2008 to more than 240 in 2010, thanks in part to a successful state school specific programme run in partnership with the Scottish Widows Bank which rewards and supports school staff who give up their time to take extra-curricular rugby while providing increasing amounts of free training kit to the school as the sport develops.

The burgeoning uptake in state schools, particularly first to third year, is crucial to the rise in the number of people playing the game at all levels – there are now 25,000 players aged under 18 involved in regular rugby compared to 15,000 just four years ago.

Neil Carrie, community projects manager for Scottish Rugby, agreed:  “Scottish Rugby firmly believes that sport can play a powerful role in providing the catalyst to improve the quality of life for young people in communities across Scotland.

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

“We look forward to supporting this pilot and helping more young people enjoy all of these benefits.”

The positive partnerships that East Ayrshire Council has with Cumnock and Kilmarnock RFC have been crucial in developing the Schools of Rugby.

Both clubs view their involvement in the funding and delivery as essential to the future of youth rugby in the region and believe it provides an excellent opportunity to develop their profile within the local community.

Alex Dunsmuir, club president at Cumnock, said: “The club is delighted to be part of this programme and sees it as a key component in the continuation of rugby.

“Our club has a long-standing history of involvement with local primary schools and the opportunity to be directly involved with Cumnock Academy is a progression which we are keen to support.”

Kilmarnock development officer, Stevie Edwards, agreed: “This is an exciting time for all involved and is a wonderful opportunity for a strong link to be formed between the club and the school.

“We hope that those taking part will also attend the club, providing a positive template for others to follow.”