Successful inclusive rugby day held at Plymstock

05 Jul 2017 19:48 | Sara Raine

YOUNGSTERS from five Devon schools enjoyed a highly successful inclusive rugby day at Plymstock Albion Oaks on Wednesday.

More than 70 pupils from Woodlands, Mill Ford, Longcause, Brook Green and Courtlands took part in the Devon RFU backed event at Horsham Fields.

The pupils were aged from five to 19-years-old and had a variety of special educational needs, but all received expert coaching from RFU regional community coaches Bob Armstrong, Wayne Reed and Mike Lewis.

The event was similar to the one held at Stonehouse Creek last year, but this time Plymstock Albion Oaks hope to offer some of the youngsters a pathway into their club.

The Cornwall/Devon League side have said they will be launching an inclusive rugby programme in September.

Oaks chairman Nigel Higginson was thrilled with how the day went and he is hoping to see some of the youngsters and their parents at the Plymouth club in the future.

“It was really encouraging,” said Higginson. “It was a good exercise in how we can run a programme at the club. It was very beneficial.

“It was great to see the ability and enthusiasm of the youngsters and how well they engaged with each other. The feedback we got was that the youngsters really enjoyed meeting new people and there were even pupils exchanging telephone numbers – that is how a day like this can expand someone’s world.

“We now want to engage some of those young people and their parents and make them feel part of a club.

“The plan is to construct a letter, which will go out to all the schools and they will send that on to the parents. The letter will make it clear that we want to include the parents as well.”

Katy Wedgwood, the PE coordinator for Woodlands – the lead inclusion school for the Plymouth area, helped organise the pupils for the day.

“My role is to create sporting opportunities for young people,” she said. “At the moment there is a real drive to link up with clubs to give young people a pathway so they can do something outside school hours and at weekends.”

Woodlands, Longcause, Brook Green and Courtlands had all attended last year’s event and were really keen to come again.

“The best bit about this event is everyone gets along and are friends,” said the Woodlands teacher.

One of the youngsters said to a member of staff before the day had started: “This is a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.”

And by lunchtime, the same person added: “This day just keeps getting better and better. I’m making so many new friends.”

Some of the youngsters had never played rugby before but soon found themselves enjoying it.

“I think the Devon RFU coaches motivate them so much,” added Ms Wedgwood.

“We had two sixth form pupils leave last Friday but they came back especially for this event with the support of their parents.

“For a lot of young people days like this are so important and it makes them and their parents know that there are clubs they can join.”

The youngsters also had the chance to meet Spoony, the mascot from the Wooden Spoon charity, who visited Horsham Field on the day.