A Scottish High School has become the third CashBack for Communities, School of Rugby in its area.
The introduction of Garnock Academy to the programme has been made possible through a partnership between Garnock Rugby Club, North Ayrshire Council, KA Leisure, Scottish Rugby and the Scottish Government.
This has also seen the appointment of a new full-time development officer. Former Dunfermline Rugby Club head coach, Gavin Blackburn who takes up the role.
Some 15 S1 pupils at the school will take part in the programme in its first year.
Blackburn said: “The biggest thing for me is that the introduction of this programme sees a continuation of my work with the P7s in the area last season. It is really satisfying that 13 of those children want to keep in with rugby and develop their skills.
“Everyone involved is thoroughly enjoying playing rugby and we’re seeing some growth in our after-school rugby club. We will continue to work with the six primary schools in the area to ensure that the programme thrives in the years to come.”
Scottish Rugby’s regional development manager for Glasgow South, Glen Tippett, said: “This is a fantastic partnership for both the school and the rugby club in terms of developing young rugby talents in the community.
“It’s also great to have Gavin Blackburn on board to lead this programme and help the players to get better.”
Scottish Rugby now has 29 Schools of Rugby in operation throughout the country. The programme, which has run since 2011, is part of Scottish Rugby’s CashBack agreement with the Scottish Government, and benefits from roughly £250,000 of funds per year.
These funds are derived from the seized proceeds of crime, and the programme strives to act as a catalyst to motivate and develop some of Scotland’s young people. It also aims to create an environment where sport makes a significant contribution to the delivery of A Curriculum for Excellence and plays a central role in the life of each individual school.
The initiative provides a context for learning inside and outside of the classroom, allowing all pupils to experience rugby, improve their fitness and their school academic work.
Councillor Willie Gibson, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: "I am delighted to help launch the latest School of Rugby in North Ayrshire and would like to thank the Scottish Rugby Union, sportscotland and Garnock Academy staff for their hard work.
"I have had a lot of positive feedback about our other Schools of Rugby at Ardrossan and Irvine, not to mention the School of Basketball in Ardrossan and School of Football in Stevenston. As a supporter of local rugby, I am delighted to see such great progress.
"The Schools of Sport provide a great chance for young people to improve and make the most of their sporting skills. However, it generally agreed that taking part in sports can help to develop confidence, discipline and social skills across the board. Indeed, young people attending existing schools of sport have already shown improvement in their academic work as well."