Four years ago some students from Myerscough College helped Community Rugby Coach Kai Burns run some local events with feeder primary schools to Garstang Academy. That gave birth to a more formal partnership between the RFU, Myerscough College, Garstang RUFC and Garstang Academy a season later.
With the club wanting to revive their junior section, which had only 25 players, and Garstang Academy the only local high school, Kai could see the sense of growing rugby in the school to increase playing numbers in the club but had eight other clubs needing his time. The Garstang Partnership was the ideal answer.
And, indeed, it has served everyone well. Myerscough College run an FdA Rugby Coaching degree, and students were eager to gain experience close by. Garstang RUFC’s limited numbers of 25 covering all ages from U7s to U16s needed boosting so that youngsters got games.
Initially, the students helped to run primary school festivals both at Myerscough College and at the club and then, with Kai’s help, began working with Garstang Academy to deliver after school sessions and form school teams to play fixtures.
As the partnership progressed, Dan Orwin the HE tutor from Myerscough College, was essential to its success, ensuring that students remained motivated. The Monday after school coaching at the local high school is now built into the students’ timetable, as a must attend practical delivery module.
In return for their time, the students receive a Rugby Ready and Level 1 course in their first year, and where appropriate a Scrum Factory and level 2 in their second year – paid for by the Garstang club. The club also pays an RFU qualified coach, a Myerscough College graduate, to mentor the college students’ work at Garstang Academy every week and assist their development.
The school, which became one of the RFU’s broadening reach schools, benefits from having a group of committed coaches every week to run extra–curricular rugby for every year group, from September through until May. The club benefits as school rugby is growing in the community around them, and players are recruited as a result.
Over the course of the programme, the club mini–junior section has grown from the initial 25 members, to finish last season with 135 and more than that already attending this season. At least 80% of the U12–U16 members are from Garstang Academy and the club has a group of committed volunteers ensuring the club grows its capacity on a Sunday to meet the ever increasing demand and adding to the recruitment efforts.
The club’s financial investment in the programme has also been strategically aided by the delivery of children’s holiday rugby camps, run by club volunteers – the club employing a Myerscough graduate coach and current students where available. Not only have the camps acted as another recruitment tool and experience opportunity for the students, but any profits from the camps are set aside to fund elements of the programme such as the students CPD and qualifications.
Says Kai, “The enthusiasm of the college students and the commitment of the college itself has certainly helped to grow the game. Students also run tag tournaments as well as delivering rugby in Garstang Academy every week, all year, and to every year group, which I could never have done alone. Now I simply liaise and oversee the partnership, which has also seen one Myerscough graduate employed by the RFU to coach in CBRE All Schools, and another employed to guide and mentor college students.
[cs_quote column_size=”1/1″ quote_cite_url=”#” quote_text_color=”#bc1c1c” quote_align=”center”]“I guess you could call it a win, win situation, especially with the club junior section gaining about five times the membership.”[/cs_quote]