The Welsh Rugby Union has made an offer to all secondary schools in Wales to part fund a full-time School Rugby Officer dedicated to the provision of rugby to boys and girls of all ages and abilities within the school.
In addition, the WRU will facilitate the schools' competition structure, with the introduction of Regional Schools Leagues to underpin the hugely successful and high profile WRU Under 18 Wednesday League. The Union will also provide supporting resource, deliver consistent Continued Professional Development and offer coach development advice to the appointed Schools Rugby Officers.
Since making the provisional offer last week, the WRU has received positive feedback from many schools and over 40 schools have already made an expression of interest in taking up the offer.
WRU Head of Rugby Josh Lewsey said: "The aim of the WRU School Partnership Initiative is to have a profound effect on Welsh society through the medium of its national sport. The values that are intrinsic to rugby, such as teamwork, respect and discipline help to support the development of 'good citizens' as well as supporting young people in achieving within a school environment.
"Evidence clearly demonstrates that delivering effective rugby programmes with dedicated staff can make a real difference to pupils' academic success as well as developing good and healthy citizens. This initiative also simultaneously delivers the WRU's aims with regards to both Elite and Community Rugby."
In addition to delivering rugby options throughout the school, the Rugby Officer will also be tasked with the transfer, communication and interface with local clubs. The WRU will oversee and reinforce this process, as it is vitally important to maintain the good habits fostered in a disciplined environment and also retain participants in the game for the long term benefit of our communities.
There are many examples where our existing schools programmes have been directly attributed with the "cultural and academic turnaround" of a school's performance. At Newport High School, where the school part funded the employment of Dai Flanagan as its Rugby Programme Coordinator, the consequences have been astounding.
Nathan Williams, Deputy Head at the school said, "The pupils on the rugby programme have become role models for all the other children. A few years ago, we struggled to get teams together in some year groups but some evenings now we have several hundred pupils taking part in various sports after school.
"From an academic point of view, we know that a third of our senior team players wouldn't have continued in education without the rugby programme we offer. Now, they will go on to have a career as they have had a good educational grounding along with specialist support for their rugby development."
Cowbridge Comprehensive School head teacher Debra Thomas, who has Matt Silva WRU development officer on secondment as their Rugby Coordinator said: "The initiative has been a resounding success for us and the appointment of a dedicated rugby coordinator has been key to that success. The 'academy' brings a sense of excitement to the school and adds a positive dimension to sport and fitness across the school."
Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera appointed a Director of Rugby last September as part of their WRU School of Rugby status, and the school has already reaped the benefit.
Head Teacher Matthew Evans said: "As a school we have seen the real value of this rugby pilot in developing the self-confidence of boys and girls in rugby, but it also contributes towards their confidence within the whole school community as they contribute to extra-curricular activity.
"It has helped develop skills in the Welsh language and enhanced pupils' progress in their academic and vocational courses. Simply and succinctly, developing an individual's skills in one area can have a transformational impact on that pupil's attitude towards their school, their education and their personal development."
The WRU funding and appointment of individuals will be subject to schools agreeing to and meeting a set of strict criteria and targets relating to areas such as participation levels; performance and development standards; facilities, and the liaison with local clubs.
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Plenty of award winners in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast.Dragons centre Tyler Morgan wins one of the top awards for up and coming talent with the SportingWales Rising Stars 2015 award. Scarlets and Wales outside half Hannah Jones is one of the runners-up. We also he from community clubs as the season approaches and Principality Premiership unsung hero Ron Taylor of Ebbw Vale.
Actor and Millennium Stadium Tour Guide Gareth Bale has been performing his one-man play about Wales rugby legend Ray Gravell across Wales. He chats to WRU TV before taking his show to the Edinburgh Festival.
After widespread consultation, the WRU has made major changes to its pathway programme for girls rugby with a spring and summer season being introduced with immediate effect in order to respond to a clear demand to play the game.
The Webb Ellis Cup visited Lampeter on Monday to recognise the fact that the town is celebrating a major milestone as it is believed the first ever game of rugby played in Wales, was in fact played in Lampeter 150 years ago.
We cover the big news the 2017 Champions League Final will be coming to the Millennium Stadium, in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We hear from FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford, First Minister Carwyn Jones and WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis. Wales coach Warren Gatland describes their high altitude training in Switzerland, national match officials manager Nigel Whitehouse talks about the community coaches and referees conference, while we have a special feature on Cardiff Blues U18 girls sevens squad preparing for their first Gemau Cymru, with some help from internationals Elinor Snowsill and Philippa Tuttiett.
Cardiff Blues U18 Girls will go into Sunday's Gemau Cymru with an extra spring in their step after Welsh internationals Elinor Snowsill and Philippa Tuttiett offered some last minute tips at a training session earlier this week.
Rob Howley and Josh Lewsey addressed more than 250 community club coaches and referees at the first WRU National Community Conference on the weekend. The volunteers benefitted from coaching masterclasses and workshops in a bid to connect all levels of the rugby pathway in Wales.
The winners of a filmmaking competition organised by the education charity Into Film and the WRU enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of the Millennium Stadium - and a chance to be photographed with the WRU's fire-breathing, rugby loving mascot, Scorch The Dragon, and Welsh international, Jake Ball.
Ebbw Vale coach Jason Strange is proud of his side's effort in against Pontypridd in the Principality Premiership final and as WRU TV's Liz Jones finds out, he's now looking forward to Wales' Under 20 campaign with confidence.
Principality Building Society has joined forces with the Welsh Rugby Union to offer every club in Wales the opportunity to reward their most cherished volunteers with tickets for Wales' Dove Men Test clash with Italy at the Millennium Stadium next weekend, Saturday 5th September 2015 (5.00pm).
A day of entertainment is promised during the Foster's National 7s at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 30 August, with games, fancy dress prizes and festive food and drink on offer as an added bonus alongside some fast and furious rugby.
Developing the game in Wales and creating a stable and progressive environment for players of the future
Taking the grass roots game out across the length and breadth of the nation, the SWALEC Leagues are the focus of the community rugby in Wales
SSE SWALEC Cup
The SSE SWALEC Cup, Plate and Bowl continue the legacy of the WRU Challenge Cup, culminating in a shot at glory at the Millennium Stadium
Women's Community Rugby embraces both the regional and community club game from Girls' Leagues through to the Women's Premier Division