Sam Warburton presents current Whitchurch High School rugby captain Rory Harries with a WRU School of Rugby plaque.
British & Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton returned to his old school, Whitchurch High torecognise the school's inclusion into the WRU School of Rugby accreditation scheme.
The initiative, launched by Wales scrum half Lloyd Williams at Cowbridge Comprehensive in the spring, rewards schools that show a commitment to the development of rugby by providing more playing and coaching opportunities through running teams and fulfilling a high number of fixtures, providing an opportunity for as many players as possible to achieve their potential and enjoy the game of rugby. The schools have also demonstrated a commitment to delivering rugby leadership qualifications as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate where possible, and importantly they support the provision of rugby opportunities within the wider community and at its feeder primary schools.
WRU National Development Manager Jason Lewis said, "Schools fulfil a vital role in introducing young people to rugby and nurturing talent and we are keen to support teachers in their work. We understand that workloads for teachers are increasing so we want to support teachers in innovative ways to deliver rugby.
"Whitchurch High School has long demonstrated significant commitment to rugby union, generating multiple teams in each of the lower year groups and at senior level through a hard working teaching staff which includes contributions from a number of teachers engaged in subjects other than physical education. The school has helped to produce international players such as Sam Warburton but they also offer children of all abilities an opportunity to play, with all their rugby sessions inclusive and open to pupils of every level."
As part of the accreditation, Whitchurch High School has employed David Williams in a post initially grant funded for a year, to coordinate rugby within the school and manage the school based Rugby Development Programme in liaison with the WRU Performance Development staff within the Cardiff Blues Academy. This will make it easier for players with potential to reach the highest possible standards in skill and conditioning levels.
Whitchurch High School is now one of 22 'WRU Schools of Rugby' with schools showing various levels of commitment towards their rugby provision.
Lewis added, "The accredited schools are being recognised for the high level of participation levels they are generating within their school and the wider community through the school teams themselves and the involvement of their most senior players who are being trained with leadership and coaching skills and putting these into practice within feeder primary schools and junior clubs in their area."
Huw Jones-Williams, Head Teacher, Whitchurch High School said: "We are delighted that Whitchurch High School's sustained contribution to schools' rugby has been recognised by this award and once again very grateful to Sam for giving so generously of his valuable time to support his former school. We are very proud of the achievements of all our students and the dedication and expertise of our staff in supporting and developing them. We look forward to further developing our rugby provision at the school and in our primary partner schools with the support of the WRU."
Sam Warburton said, "It was while at Whitchurch High School that I became a keen rugby player and decided I wanted to do everything I could to reach the highest possible standards in the sport. It is thanks in large part to my rugby teachers at the school such as Steve Williams and Gwyn Morris that I developed such a love of the game. I played with my mates for the school team and later, having joined the WRU Blues academy, my teachers also made it possible for me to pursue my rugby career by accommodating my timetable so that I could fulfil both my rugby commitments and my academic studies."
The WRU is currently in the process of distributing teaching resources to all primary and secondary schools in Wales to assist with curricular and extra-curricular school delivery of rugby union. The application process to become a WRU School of Rugby will re-open in November.
WRU Schools of Rugby
Dyffryn School (Port Talbot)
Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr
Newport High School
Lewis School Pengam
Ysgol Dyffryn Aman/Amman Valley School
Ysgol Gyfun Maes Yr Yrfa
YGG Bro Myrddin
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.