England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster and his squad brought added excitement to an All Schools festival at Eccles Rugby Club in Manchester yesterday afternoon.
The 15 schools in attendance only took up rugby three years ago as part of the Rugby Football Union’s All Schools which aims to increase the number of secondary state schools playing the game.
Lancaster, along with Brad Barritt, Sam Burgess, Courtney Lawes, Jonny May, Ben Morgan, Rob Webber and Ben Youngs took part in various coaching drills with students ranging from 11-16 years of age before a question and answer and autograph signing session.
Lancaster said: “It was a great activity and all credit to Eccles Rugby Club and the RFU’s development staff for organising the event. All Schools is a fantastic programme and all these secondary schools in the Manchester area coming here today is great. The England team needs to sit within the community not above it and it is important to give something back. We have enjoyed the coaching and hopefully the kids have enjoyed themselves.”
All Schools is one of the RFU’s key programmes set up to create a Rugby World Cup legacy. After three years 400 more state secondary schools are now playing rugby union because of All Schools and the aim is to add another 350 by RWC 2019.
Earlier in the summer Rob Webber joined Geoff Parling at an All Schools tournament at Camberley RFC when schools travelled from across the country for a special training session with the England forwards.
As a big supporter of the programme he said today: “There has been an incredible turn out and it was great to see so many children enjoying the game. It is a big weekend for rugby in the north of England and as a northerner it is particularly exciting to be here today and to meet and encourage young players new to the game.”
All Schools are identified in regional clusters so they can compete against players at a similar level. The schools are supported over three years with a tailored programme to meet their individual needs including links to local rugby clubs. More than 140 clubs are now supporting All Schools and helping players to further develop in their rugby experience.
The attending schools were: Abraham Moss, Broad Oak School, Bury Church of England High School, Chorlton Academy, Loreto College, Manchester Academy, Manchester Enterprise Academy, Manchester Health Academy, New Charter Academy, Oulder Hill, Siddal Moor, St Cuthberts, St Marys’ Catholic High School, St Patricks School, Woodhey School