Scottish Rugby’s CashBack for Communities Schools of Rugby programme, which was launched in 2011, has seen its first pupil selected for a Scotland age-grade team.
Grange Academy (Kilmarnock) pupil, Gregor Paxton, was included in the Scotland under-16 squad that was named earlier this week and will now be firmly focussed on trying to win selection for the Wellington Festival in April.
He said: “I have been playing rugby since I was in primary three. When I joined the Grange School of Rugby in S1 it allowed me the opportunity to practice my rugby skills and improve my fitness by playing and practicing on a daily basis.
I was fortunate to have high quality rugby coaches and gained experience from meeting professional players, nutritionists and fitness coaches. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the School of Rugby and have been fortunate to be selected for the Glasgow District under-16 and the extended Scotland under-16 squad.
“Through the programme I feel my studies in general have also improved as daily exercise helps me concentrate on other lessons. I feel very fortunate to have benefitted from this and would highly recommend it to any other aspiring rugby player.”
Grange Academy in Kilmarnock was one of the first schools to pilot Schools of Rugby and over the past four years participation levels have quadrupled at the school with six teams and over 100 players.
Jamie Houston, head of rugby at Grange Academy said: “School of Rugby has been a fantastic vehicle for me to raise the bar and get the best out of our pupils by building a rapport and a level of respect that is difficult to achieve in a classroom situation.
“We have many talented players which inspires others to improve their skills and fitness, but the reason I love this programme is because of the impact it has on the individuals.
“School of Rugby is of such value because of the values it promotes. There is no doubt it helps build the four capacities of a Curriculum for Excellence.”
Meanwhile, Preston Lodge High School has received a major boost. Andrew Horne, also named in the squad, is the first Preston Lodge pupil to be named in over 18 years.
Preston Lodge active schools co-ordinator, Graeme Bennion, said: “A massive thank you to those who have helped Andrew over the last two years. Chris Thomas and Clint Lanyon from Preston Lodge High School have been vital in encouraging Andrew and making sure he stays focussed and Fergus Pringle East Lothian rugby development officer who has helped Andrew.
Also Preston Lodge Rugby Club who have coached Andrew through all the rugby he has played since he was in primary school. Rugby development officers at Preston Lodge Lee Wadsworth, Mark Coull, Dougie Thomson and Andrew Clark have helped to keep Andrew in rugby.”
Scotland under-16 have two training camps, held at Tulliallan Police College in Fife this weekend (22-23 March) and next weekend (29-30 March), ahead of a training game against Newcastle Falcons under-16s on Sunday 30 March.
The squad will then travel to the Wellington Festival on Friday 11 April to play three games against Wales (East) on Sunday 13 April, England (North) on Wednesday 16 April and England Saxons on Saturday 19 April.
Growing our successful CashBack for Communities – funded Schools of Rugby is an intrinsic part of our recently published policy initiative for schools, The Way Forward: 2016 and Beyond that be seen here, http://scottishrugby.org/sites/default/files/editor/docs/scottish_rugby_policy_initiatives_summary.pdf