WRU Head of Rugby Participation Ryan Jones has revealed a far-reaching and inclusive vision for the next phase of the WRU’s successful hub programme – 'to give every child in Wales a positive rugby experience'.
The scheme sees full-time rugby officers offering rugby opportunities to boys and girls of all abilities in schools, colleges and universities around Wales and Jones is confident it will ‘set the young people of today up for a lifelong affinity to our national game'.
So far this term, 79 hub officers have been appointed – part-funded by the WRU. In addition, there are six incumbent hub officers whose current contracts run until the end of the school year.
Since the first hub officers were appointed in 2014, the amount of rugby played by pupils in schools and colleges has increased dramatically – 1000% for boys and 11000% for girls*. More than 3900 pupils also completed the Rugby Leaders qualification during the first phase of the programme. Once qualified the leaders boost the ability of hub officers to deliver rugby to feeder primary schools and within the community, while developing their own leadership skills.
While the participation element will continue to be important, especially on continuing to grow rugby opportunities for girls a number of other, wider benefits of the scheme have been identified and will be further developed during this next phase of the Hub Programme as part of the WRU’s ‘Rugby for All’ philosophy. These include the positive influence of the Hub Officer in improved behaviours of challenging pupils and their attitude towards learning. There will also be an emphasis during ‘Hubs 2’ on delivering inclusive and disability rugby to pupils with special educational needs in line with the WRU’s ‘Rugby For All’ philosophy and Disability Rugby strategy.
Maesteg head teacher Helen Jones said, “The Hub Officer role has been a massive success in Maesteg Comprehensive School. As a direct result of this role, we have seen a significant increase in the number of both boys and girls playing rugby – in fact, we have obtained the best statistics nationally. Pupils have also been involved in leading primary school festivals, refereeing fixtures, writing sports reports and adopting post-match analysis and photography roles. Rugby has helped Maesteg School develop a sense of community and played a significant part in teaching our pupils how to be part of a team. It has been an effective tool in building better relationships, developing character, confidence and resilience in some of our more disaffected pupils, giving them a positive experience of school and something to be proud of.
“We are committed to continuing to develop rugby at Maesteg School and are thrilled to have the opportunity to have the support of our Hub Officer. It has been and continues to be a very productive partnership.”
The hub officers will also dedicate time to community-based projects to help promote active lifestyles and foster a lifelong connection with rugby activities in line with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales).
Former Wales captain Ryan Jones said, “We have re-mapped our provision of school club hub officers based on social and economic factors as well as rugby need. Our vision is to give every single school age child in Wales a positive rugby experience and if we can do that, we will set them up for a lifelong affinity to our national game.
“The hubs certainly lived up to the task of increasing rugby provision for girls and boys around Wales and the Rugby Leaders initiative has multiple benefits in terms of developing the skills and employability of older pupils while creating links and providing rugby opportunities to younger and primary school pupils.
“However, we now recognise that hub officers bring so much more to a school environment than deliver rugby and the new landscape sets out to acknowledge the wider benefits for all pupils, whatever their ability – or disability – of being involved in rugby activity in a school or college environment.”
Former Wales and Lions captain Sam Warburton was at a recent training day (CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO) for the new wave of Hub officers and was impressed by what he saw.
“It’s great to play rugby and I know a lot of people would like to play for Wales but this scheme shows that it’s about more than rugby, it’s about how you can influence someone as a person too and to hear that some pupils are more engaged in school because of the hub officers is fantastic.”
WRU Participation and Retention Manager Chris Ower commented, “The Hub Programme is the WRU flagship participation programme across schools, colleges and universities in Wales. It brings to life the WRU Participation Strategy across the key themes of male game, female game, alternative, inclusion and people development.”
Hub officers in North Wales:
Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen Rhys Owen
Ysgol y Moelwyn Erddyn Williams
Brynllywarch Hall School Gareth Kelly
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan Chris Myers
Rhyl High School Seb Vidal
Llanidloes High Adam Price
Grwp Llandrilllo Menai tbc
Ysgol y Berwyn Euros Jones
Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy Llion Jones
Holyhead High Andy Baston
Ysgol Brynhyfryd Emyr Gwynedd
Ysgol Bro Idris Eon Williams
Ysgol Syr Huw Owen Dafydd Roberts
Bangor University/ Bangor RFC tbc
Ysgol Glan Clwyd Joe Simpson
* more than 40 000 boys and 19 000 girls across 95 hubs regularly played various forms of school-based rugby (from touch to 15-a-side) during the last academic year compared to 4323 boys and less than 170 girls playing rugby in the original 43 hubs before the scheme started in 2014
Updated 19:56 - 10 Oct 2018 by Gary Williams