The success of the English game is something that is unlikely to fall away in the foreseeable future, with the incredible work community teams are doing to ensure the development of talent at the grass roots level and above.
We have William Webb Ellis to thank for his, at the time, heinous crime of clasping at a rounded ball and running with it in 1823. We have the likes of top class coaching and Clive Woodward to thank for the facilitation of the 2003 RWC winning England side. We also have the RFU to thank for their management and growth of the game, and especially every Dad, Mum, Uncle or Auntie down on a Sunday morning helping grow the crop of talent that will bless Twickenham’s hallowed turf in years to come. However, a lot of the work done inspiring children across the country to both adore the sport in the way that we do and, develop the crucial basic skills that you would need for a variety of sports, is done by the Aviva Premiership Community teams.
I’ve been lucky to be at the centre of community rugby, working with two outstanding clubs in the form of Harlequins and London Wasps. I can also say that having such a carefully crafted, expertly coached and enjoyable range of opportunities like after school coaching, residential camps or even just match day experiences, would have been a memorable experience for a younger me. These experiences aren’t just about enhancing the passion of those who have grown up with the sport, or even welcoming alternative sport lovers into our tight-knit family, it’s purely about ensuring our younger generations grow up with a healthy attitude to sport, a healthy lifestyle in general and develop a set of core values such as the RFU’s Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship.
Most rewarding from my perspective, are occasions when kids that you’ve previously coached spot you and make a point of interacting with you. Not only does it mean that you’ve made an impact on their sporting life, but also that you know you’re doing your job right!
So what exactly does community rugby offer?
- In curricular/After-school clubs Tag Rugby-Aviva Schools Programme
- Specialised programs for learning alongside Tag Rugby-MBNA Tackling Numbers, BT Supporters Club Something to Chew On
- Anti-bullying program
- Independent Schools in curricular/After-school clubs
- Club visits and partnerships
- Match Day experiences (coaching and guard of honour)
- Festivals and festival support
- Residential Coach Camps/Coachclasses
- Coach Camps/Coachclasses
- Coach the Coaches to provide teachers and coaches with continuous professional development
- Coaching day’s for UK and International sides
- Tickets for top-flight rugby
- Charitable support for local and regional charities
- FE and HE Education Program support and vocational delivery
- Even an opportunity to meet and learn from the professionals…
As you can see, coaching won’t just benefit the likes of 6, 7, 8, or even 16 year olds, it is just as valuable for coaches to take away a few key pieces of advice. Whether you are an RFU Level 1 or Level 2 qualified coach, like most of the community coaches, being able to experience unique games or differing techniques will be a time investment that will be profitable for those that look up to you.
From my time with both community set-ups, I’ve grown to appreciate the workload taken on by those full-time staff involved and similarly, noticed the meaningful roles that part-time staff play in shaping unforgettable sporting memories. I can’t thank either club enough for the coaching experience they’ve given me and in doing so, show my appreciation by showing what a sensational job they both do. Here are some unique stats about the two community teams!
Aviva Schools Programme-
Aviva Schools and BT Supporter’s Club Something to Chew On Programme has seen over 4700 children coached this season.
After School Club’s/ Planning Preparation and Assessment cover-700 per week.
500 children playing competitive rugby for the first time!
Over 50 different clubs and schools attending match days, with approximately 160 age groups from these taking part in various events.
Community have sold 21,750 tickets this season.
Residential Coaching Camp
A new Residential Camp at Tonbridge that offers fantastic facilities and coaching, as well input from first team Harlequins players! Full-on rugby programme with specified sessions to really fine-tune skills. Fantastic opportunity for the passionate, able rugby player.
The Harlequins coaching methods are consistent throughout the First XV, Academy and Community, coaching the TRUE style of play. Tempo, Ruthlessness, Unpredictability and Enjoyment.
Across all of the schools programmes, Wasps have engaged with over 10,000 kids and adolescents this season, and even more than that indirectly. They currently engage with over 100,000 people a year.
Wasps have established links with projects such as their Coachclass Program, Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Program, MBNA Tackling Numbers, Mars in the Community Schools Program, BT Supporters Club Something to Chew On (healthy living) Program and NSPCC Anti-bullying Program.
Wasps have also developed their own Move 2 Improve Program sponsored by DS Smith, helping to develop the physical literacy and movement skills of young people such as agility, balance, coordination and catching.
They engage with clubs and schools across the South East of England, including: Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Middlesex, Sussex, Hampshire and Kent.
A annually run Residential Coachclass in partnership with the Royal Air Force aimed at U13s-U17s, offering an intense rugby program alongside an education on lifestyle management delivered by the Royal Air Force.
If you have a son/daughter interested, with a passion for rugby or keen to get involved in sport over the summer, I would highly recommend looking to see if any Community team is offering a coaching camp near you. If you’re located near London, then definitely take a look at what Wasps and Quins have to offer!
Harlequins Community Page- http://www.quins.co.uk/community/
Wasps Community Page- http://www.wasps.co.uk/Community.ink Follow Wasps Community Twitter @WaspsCommunity
Rugby isn’t just a form of competitive sport and exercise, it’s a family game that encompasses the morals and skills of life. Community rugby helps ensure the lifeblood of the game isn’t lost and adds to the unity and family feel of our great sport.
Thank you to Harlequins and London Wasps for their support, co-operation and fantastic work.