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Youngsters given taste of what rugby has to offer at North Walsham

PUBLISHED: 08:24 19 October 2017

Youngsters put their new-found skills into practice. Picture: Richard Polley

Youngsters put their new-found skills into practice. Picture: Richard Polley

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“A fantastic experience...lots of fun.....the coaches are great,..I’ve learnt so many new skills...I want to do the whole day again......I’m going to join a rugby club”

Last week's rugby day at North Walsham was enjoyed by youngsters and adults alike. Picture: Richard PolleyLast week's rugby day at North Walsham was enjoyed by youngsters and adults alike. Picture: Richard Polley

These were just a few of the comments made by students participating in last week’s first ever Year Seven Boys’ Rugby Day organised by North Walsham and deemed a great success by all involved. During the summer the club consulted with local High Schools about how to foster closer links with them and encourage more youngsters to try out the game, and the rugby day was one of the outcomes.

An impressive total of 75 11-year-olds from Aylsham, Broadland, Cromer, Flegg and Stalham Schools came to the event at Scottow which had been preceded by hour long taster sessions held at the schools earlier in the term.

North Walsham’s Head of Rugby and ex-Premiership player James Brooks led the day, supported by three of the club’s Senior Coaches - Joe Joe Beardshaw, Alan Hepburn and Julian Magnus - and five first team players - Mike Braans, Lachlan Brown-Bates, Roydon Miller, Todd Scotland and Will Swart. The ratio of students to coaches meant there was plenty of opportunity for individual tuition.

In the morning the youngsters moved between skill stations, each focussing on core elements of the game such as passing, tackling, the breakdown and scrummaging. After lunch they had the chance to put their new skills into practice, each school playing the other four in matches lasting 15 minutes the first XV pitch.

Youngsters try out the skills they have learnt at Scottow. Picture: Richard PolleyYoungsters try out the skills they have learnt at Scottow. Picture: Richard Polley

Teams received further coaching both during the games and in the breaks between them. Inevitably some sides were stronger than others but there were plenty of close games and everyone looked to be enjoying themselves.

Enjoyment and learning were key themes of the day according to Vikings’ second row forward Miller.

“I thoroughly enjoyed myself as did the other players,” he said. “It was great to see the youngsters improve as the day progressed, putting what they’d learnt into practice. There were plenty of talented players out there who could get a lot of enjoyment out of the game.”

The teachers who accompanied their students were also pleased with how it went. John Nutt from Cromer commented: “It was a fantastic opportunity for schools with little or no history of playing rugby to kick start students’ interest and enthusiasm for a sport that teaches so many positive values. Our students demonstrated great progress and left on a massive high, desperate for further involvement.”

Youngsters are taught the basics of scrummaging at North Walsham's rugby day. Picture: Richard PolleyYoungsters are taught the basics of scrummaging at North Walsham's rugby day. Picture: Richard Polley

Emma Bullingham of Broadland High added: “The coaches did a great job teaching the fundamentals of the game; the boys came back enthused about rugby.”

Aylsham were awarded the “Vikings Year 7 Trophy” and Adam Knight from Aylsham was named as “outstanding player of the day.”

There were awards too for the outstanding player from each school, these going to Liam Crane (Stalham), Callum Bensley (Flegg), Jayden Lafleur (Cromer), Blake Schutte (Broadland) and Jack Payne (Aylsham).

North Walsham, which has a thriving Youth and Minis section (details from www.facebook.com/Walshamminis or kmhooker9@gmail.com), hope to follow up with similar events and a weekly after school club, but is constrained by resources.

Chairman Keith Jarvis explained: “We are looking to build sustainable links with the schools in our local community. This was a great start but there is so much more we could offer. A lot of volunteer time went into planning and delivering this, but there were costs we had to meet and our finances are stretched. Some sponsorship, however small, would be very helpful.”

Keith can be contacted on 07788889853.


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