Time to try tag-rugby?

sam rugby

Is there still a place for rugby union on the school curriculum?

As an RFU level two coach working at a prep school in Twickenham, I would seem oddly placed to present an argument against rugby union’s inclusion in school sport.

However, my pedagogy has been formed mainly within the state school system and I think it’s time to move away from the traditional inclusion of rugby as a ‘boy’s winter sport’.

Given that less than 2% of the active population play rugby union from the age of 14+, the statistics suggest that young people grow disenfranchised with rugby before key stage four.

This is hardly surprising considering the bleak British winters, the hard hits in the tackle and the physical contact in the scrums, rucks and mauls.

All this, and the obvious physical advantages enjoyed by the boys who have hit their growth spurts earlier, makes me think state schools should start to create space in their summer timetables for tag- or touch-rugby in key stage three.

The benefits to the introduction of tag- or touch- are massive:

  • Remove the fear-factor associated with contact and tackling and the introverts will flourish. The advantage no longer lies with the bigger, harder boys.
  • Teachers can focus on skill development; focusing on passing and handling, agility and quickness. Perfecting the basics required for heads-up, offensive rugby.
  • Educate every student to have speed in their hands, and to not rely on their bulk; by the time they reach colts rugby, their peers will have caught up with them. Size will no longer be an advantage.
  • The students need not fear the elements; the sunshine and hard grounds are perfect for active, taxing rugby sessions. This will enable students to concentrate on their skill development above the circulation flowing to their finger tips.
  • Introducing an invasion sport in to the summer timetable keeps students active year-round, promoting longer periods of activity throughout the curriculum, and moves away from sedentary striking and fielding games and athletics.

All aspects of rugby union should be based around the core values of the RFU, and what better way to encourage teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship then by leveling the playing field.

Removing the contact element that affords the bigger boys an advantage, creating an enjoyable learning environment in the summer months and focusing on improving the skill levels of the students will allow for a greater amount of students to access and enjoy rugby union at key stage four or outside the school curriculum.

2 thoughts on “Time to try tag-rugby?

  1. Tom

    You raise a valid argument Mr Edmondson. My concern is that because rugby is becoming more and more popular as the years go by, to remove this aspect of the curriculum would cause a lack of progression to that of the sport, at all levels. Just look at the amount of people who now attend professional rugby games compared to that of 10-15 years ago. I personally feel there is a lack of capable teachers within the state school system, not just in rugby but other sports too. You can raise the argument of those that develop earlier than others in any sport. The majority of professional sportsmen and sportswomen are born between September and December. Touch rugby is a fantastic sport for all ages and in my personal experience has been taught inside as well as outside, it can be played on Tarmac as well as grass. There needs to be a push on key stage 1&2 teachers to get away from the non adventurous pe lessons. Touch rugby is easy to pick up and adapt. Natural progression would then lead to contact rugby as they progress through to ks3&4. An important stage in rugbys development. Sports like football will always be popular and I feel should be equal to other sports, not take any preference.
    To sum up I feel rugby is an important part of the curriculum but should not be relied on when there are other sports to be involved in as children can easily miss out on so,etching they excel at.

    Reply
    1. samedmondson Post author

      Hello Tom,
      I definitely think rugby still has a place in the curriculum in some form, but perhaps on a school by school basis.
      Rural areas are somewhat the heartland for rugby, but in my case teaching in London I think tag rugby will suit the needs of the students better.
      It’ll be interesting to see if/when it’s implemented at my school.
      I definitely agree with you that students are not leaving primary school with anywhere near the desired skill level to make PE effective in key stage three.
      For me that is the big failing in not replacing the SSCOs under the current government – often there is no link between the primary and secondary schools.
      I think a switch to tag rugby in summer term 2015 would create great momentum and interest in the sport to roll in to the RWC in September.
      What do you think?

      Reply

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