First ever Cornish Rugby League Schools Festival is a hit with teachers and students!
Cornish Rebels RLFC last week celebrated a monumental step in the development of Rugby League in the County and a first for Cornish schools by hosting the first ever Rugby League festival at Camborne Rugby Club. Richard Lander, Mullion, Falmouth and Redruth Schools were in attendance as were Pool Academy, Penryn College and Liskeard School & Community College for the under-13's boy's event.
A great day was had by all as The Rebels, formed in 2013, were joined and supported by 2014 Super League Champions St. Helens RLFC and national governing body The Rugby Football League to deliver skills and development drills to pupils from the seven schools before hosting a 9-a-side tournament in the afternoon. Rebels first-teamers Callum Abbott, Josh Durant, Decarlo Trerise and Sam Scates-Veale assisted St Helens' Craig Richards, The RFL's Marc Lovering and Rebels Development Manager Rob Butland in coaching in the morning and then refereed the games during the afternoons competition.
The day was held as a celebration of the first year of Cornish schools' Rugby League activity. Nine secondary schools throughout the County are now endorsed by England Rugby League as England Player Development schools, since allowing their teachers to access the Embed the Pathway Key Stage three CPD.
Richard Lander School of Truro won the Pool A trophy on the day, finishing top of the pool and winning the first vs. second final against Penryn College. P.E teacher Jamie Bridger was very complimentary of the delivery and said he would happy to incorporate Rugby League activity into future school activity.
"It was a really organised day with a suitable mix of fun and competition. A great opportunity for students to mix with players from a variety of schools. The generic elements of speed, agility, passing, tackling, tactics and teamwork are relevant to both Rugby League and Rugby Union. The students thoroughly enjoyed the coaching and competition and we will certainly be using both the drills and games in our future training sessions."
Dan Lugg, School Games Organiser for the Peninsula School Sports Partnership, has been watching the activity of the Rebels very closely, and seems encouraged by what he is seeing in terms of schools interest and the clubs activity.
"The festival was an opportunity for Cornish schools to come together under the banner of Rugby League and celebrate the first year of activity in Cornwall. Having seen first-hand the level of engagement from pupils in some after school clubs, I was excited to see how the skill sessions would nurture and develop their enthusiasm."
Dan also hinted at more activity in the future, given the obvious interest from teachers and pupils and the success of the day "The tournament this afternoon was an opportunity to showcase simple, inclusive and enjoyable rugby and it's churned out a few surprise results. I'm delighted with how the day has gone and I look forward to working with the Rebels and St Helens more in the future."
For the Rebels' Development Manager Rob Butland, the day was a huge success and the first step on a very long journey for the sport in Cornwall. "The last 12 months has been about getting the Embed the Pathway resource out there into the secondary schools and in front of teachers. We achieved that through two CPD sessions and the feedback from the staff was superb. Activity has been at mixed levels across the board and so this festival was a great way of letting the pupils experience some of the finest Rugby League coaching that this Country has to offer and giving many of them their first proper Rugby League experience at the same time.
"I was not surprised by the unbelievably high standard of Rugby on show and I could see many future Rebels out there on those pitches. Our job now is to ensure that these kids can stay active in the sport, either in school or off curriculum, before they become eligible for the open age game at 16 years old."
St Helens RLFC are one of the most prestigious Rugby League clubs on the planet, and having been a force in Rugby League since its foundation over 125 years ago, they formed a link with Cornwall's only Rugby League Club back in October in a bid to nurture the game outside of the 'traditional areas', strengthen its long term future and also engage new audiences in their own clubs copious successes over the years.
Coach Development Officer Craig Richards delivered the Embed the Pathway CPD to teachers in January this year and is looking ahead to a bright future for Rugby League in the County.
"It was great once again linking up with our partners the Rebels and their schools to deliver on this exciting programme.
"It is part of the continuing and developing partnership between ourselves which has already seen several schools accredited as England Talent Pathway deliverers and coaches receiving support.
"In the near future we will also be looking to lead on the delivery of Level 2 coaching courses for the local community to further strengthen their coaching skills.
"This will ensure they can provide the pathway for all those who want to play our great sport.
"The festival was a great success and to witness this number of schools and Cornish kids playing Rugby League for the first time was a fantastic achievement.
"The way they adapted their current skillset to Rugby League was both pleasing and impressive and they had obviously trained hard in the build up to this day. This shows the importance our sport and the Saints are already playing in the lives of children down in Cornwall.
"It's clear to see future Saints stars coming from Cornwall via the Rebels. It is a talent hotspot and I look forward to catching up with them soon."
South West Rugby League Club & Competition Manager Marc Lovering summarised what this day means for the future of the sport in the County. "To see so many schoolboys from all over the Cornwall turn up is testament to the hard work Cornish Rebels with the support of St Helens have put in to develop the game in the County. Given that large numbers of the boys were playing rugby league for the first time the skill levels were first class. However, what really shone through was how much the pupils and staff enjoyed the day. That bodes well for the future of the game in the region."