Part 1 – October 2018
My name is Michael Weston and I am the Youth/Schools Development Officer for Harlow Rugby Club.
I’ll be using this blog over the coming months to show the development of the Youth/Schools Development Programme and highlight the progress we’re making in improving the lives of young people by getting them involved with the sport. I took over the role in January 2018 and am extremely proud to be involved the programme as it is thanks to the opportunity that I had been part of Harlow Rugby Club youths teams when I was younger that I have been able to play rugby at various levels throughout my career.
[Picture taken at Harlow rugby outreach event this year at Spellbrook School]
The aim of the HRUFC Youth/Schools Development Programme is to encourage young people to get involved with the sport of rugby, fostering participation and enjoyment. We want to form a bond between Harlow Rugby Club and young people getting involved in the sport, promoting progression through the club and instilling in them the key values of the sport: teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline, and sportsmanship.
We would not be able to run this programme without the kind support of our sponsors: Benbrook Windows and ARG Group
Since January, we have begun to focus more on secondary schools and have made connections with all the secondary schools in Harlow. We currently deliver 12 hours a week of rugby coaching across secondary schools in Harlow and are part-way through hosting a number of inter-school rugby tournaments for students aged 11-16, at Harlow Rugby Club. We have hosted three large inter-primary school rugby tournaments and attended six primary school summer fetes in order to promote the programme. We have already seen the effect of this outreach as the number of students attending after-school rugby coaching has risen from 100 students across Harlow last year, to 230 students by September this year.
[Pictures taken at the schools tournament October 2018]
Harlow Rugby Club has also partnered with the Changing Lives project, an incredible scheme which seeks to prevent children falling prey to gangs and getting involved with gang violence by engaging them in sports and exercise and teaching them the core values of rugby. Our involvement with Changing Lives has featured in a number of news outlets, including BBC Look East.
[Harlow Rugby Club featuring on BBC look east]
[Harlow Rugby Club featuring on Heart Radio website]
Please check out the link to the Changing Lives in Harlow Facebook page
Please also see web article on the project:
[Changing Lives organisers]
In preparation for the new school year, knowing secondary schools will begin to teach rugby in their PE lessons, we developed the Schools Rugby Development plan over the summer. This will involve a ten-week written programme during which students will be taught the basic skills and core values needed to compete at club level rugby.
Please see some screen grabs of the 70 + programmes being used:
At the end of this programme, students will have a letter sent to their homes explaining that they have completed the Schools Rugby Development programme and all that they have learned through it. Jake Watts previously did a fantastic job delivering the schools programme, Sadly Jake has stepped down from this position to pursue a career in Teaching and will be greatly missed. However, this role is now being filled by Matt Fowl who will be an excellent asset to the team.
[Picture of Matthew Fowl, our new Schools Development coach]
Quote from Matthew Fowl:
‘I am absolutely delighted to be part of this amazing project, helping to get young people involved in rugby. I can already see in my first few months how much of an impact it is having and I am looking forward to its continued growth for the future’
We have also recruited Katie Boggas who will be leading our girls’ rugby outreach from January 2019. We will be attending Stewards, Burnt Mill and St Marks for Schools rugby lessons over the coming season and as well as hosting after schools clubs. This is a massive step forward in the right direction for women’s rugby, which Harlow Rugby Club is striving to push.
[Picture of Katie Boggas schools youth development coach leading the girl’s rugby project]
We have already had fantastic feedback from the schools in Harlow for what we have delivered. Please see some statements below:
‘Harlow rugby club have been delivering the sessions for the past eight weeks at our school Saint Mark. Matt and Mike have been helping with our key stage 3 lessons, delivering effective rugby sessions to promote Fairplay hard work and love of the sport. All of which encompass the sport that we love, promoting rugby union in the town.
Many boys have already begun to join Harlow rugby club with some boys even making the Essex county squad, which is great news for both the school and club. In addition to coaching Matt and Mike have been refereeing and hosting our into form competitions, which promotes matchplay and has been integral in getting boys to join the rugby club. Finally Harlow has kindly hosted our district tournaments every Thursday after school. With up to 8 schools attending we have seen over 300 young rugby players playing matches on the newly laid wonderful pitches Harlow have to offer.
The relationship between Harlow rugby club and St Marks School is going from strength to strength, with Mike at the helm I believe the coaching structure is now in a very strong position going forward. As a new coach, Matt has been keen and extremely positive, bringing new ideas for both the boys and the school to utilise in our rugby progression.’
[Ray Flowers Head of P.E St Marks]
‘Michael, Matt and Jake, the coaches from Harlow Town Rugby Club, have been delivering fantastic, engaging and fun sessions for the children of our community every week. Especially to those children at Kingsmoor Academy and the Changing Lives project. The students love it when they hear the Rugby Club are coaching them today … A huge thank you goes out to them for their continuous work within the community!’
[Ben Doyle, Chair of the HDPSSA & Director of SK Sports Academy]
Over the past 3 years Harlow RFC have supplied a coach to come into school and delivery sessions to help with rugby. These have been a great success as we have seen a big uptake of ours students joining the club and this can only benefit the community that we serve.
[Andy Martn, Head of P.E at Passmores]
There are over 20 schools’ rugby fixtures scheduled to be played at Harlow Rugby Club this season and we look forward to working increasingly with schools across Harlow.
We still have plenty of work to do and we will be pushing to increase our levels of participation in primary schools in the new year, with at least ten outreach events attended throughout 2019. We shall also look to provide more educational talks across secondary schools in Harlow as well hosting more primary school rugby tournaments at Harlow Rugby Club.
Be sure to keep reading the blog as we continue to provide updates on the great success the Youth/Schools Development Programme is having in paving the way for the future of rugby in Harlow!