Children from schools in Worcestershire will be taking part in a regional tag rugby festival hosted by Worcester Warriors next week.
The Guinness Premiership side will be playing host to eight schools in the festival at Sixways, 1pm – 3.30pm on Wednesday, March 28.
The regional festival is one of the first to be held as part of the new EDF Energy National Schools Rugby Programme, which will introduce close to 100,000 children to the sport over the next three years.
Louise Poole, EDF Energy’s Head of Brand, said: “We’re committed to developing the grassroots of the sport through the EDF Energy National Schools Rugby Programme. The regional festivals are a celebration of all the hard work that schools and clubs have put in to the coaching programme so far.”
The festivals will see schools involved in the programme competing against each other in a series of mini leagues, culminating in a final.
The schools taking part are: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary, Elmley Castle Primary, Witton Middle School, Bengeworth C.E Primary, St Andrew’s C.E Primary, St, Richard’s C.E Primary, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School and St Egwin’s C.E Middle School.
Pupils from the schools have all been involved in the EDF Energy National Schools Rugby Programme, receiving coaching from the Warriors along with equipment, to ensure a lasting rugby legacy with schools playing the game for years to come. Coaches have been to every school to train teachers and coach children, and clubs have also held education coaching evenings as part of the programme.
Peter Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, is backing the programme.
He said: “I am delighted that EDF Energy is involved in promoting rugby to children. Tag rugby is a brilliant introduction to the sport and the new EDF Energy National Schools Rugby Programme is giving children the chance to participate – and there couldn’t be a better place to do it than at Sixways.”
Tag rugby is a non-contact version of the sport that teaches the skills necessary to go on and play rugby union.
Pat Sanderson, of Worcester Warriors, said: “We’ve been working with schools and the response has been fantastic. Tag rugby is a brilliant introduction to the sport and the new EDF Energy programme is giving thousands of children the chance to get involved.
“The regional festival will be a great opportunity for schools in the programme to come together for a real celebration of rugby.”
The programme is one of the most comprehensive in world rugby, involving nine to ten-year-old boys and girls, along with teachers, at primary schools across England. Schools where rugby has never been played before are among those being targeted.
Every Premier Rugby club as well as National League sides Exeter Chiefs and Cornish Pirates, are providing coaching and running festivals.
Players have also been visiting schools, helping with the coaching and awarding certificates. More schools will be joining the programme in the coming weeks.
Premier Rugby’s Chief Executive, Mark McCafferty added: “Our partnership with EDF Energy allows us to work across rugby from the grassroots to the hallowed turf of Twickenham. Worcester Warriors have supported the programme with their key first team players who have proven to be exceptional role models in the past for children of this age.
“The comprehensive nature of the programme we are running with EDF Energy ensures a legacy for participating schools, ensuring continued enjoyment from the sport, but also increasing the chances of one of these children returning to Twickenham in years to come as a professional rugby player.”