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New Accessible Rugby programme proves a hit with Coventry’s special schools

Children with behavioural challenges and disabilities in Coventry have been given access to an innovative new pilot rugby programme - which culminated in a major tag rugby festival.

More than 80 children from four special schools across the city have taken part in Accessible Rugby, a new rugby pilot which has seen them learn and develop rugby skills, mostly for the first time.

Over the course of the 12-week programme, pupils received rugby coaching from Coventry Rugby Club which saw them learn core rugby skills such as passing, catching and evasion, in turn developing their confidence, spatial awareness and hand-eye co-ordination.

To mark the end of the pilot, schools gathered at the Alan Higgs Centre in Allard Way to compete in a tag rugby festival.

The initiative was launched in support of Coventry’s ten year sports strategy which sees a particular emphasis on increasing provision for disability sport across the city.

The programme was delivered in partnership by Coventry Rugby Club and Engage! - an initiative which teaches the core values of rugby, such as teamwork, respect, integrity, enjoyment and discipline, to children to provide social and educational benefits as a way of developing active and well-rounded young people in Coventry.

Tom Clift, programme manager of Engage!, said:

The pilot has been really popular and it has been so rewarding to see the school children not just engage with rugby but also learn valuable skills which will help them in daily life, improving their confidence and behaviour in the classroom.

The tag rugby festival was the culmination of everything pupils learnt and it was great to see them in action participating in the sport. We look forward to expanding the programme in future to take it to more schools in the city.

As a special reward for each pupil’s hard work, schools have been invited as guests of honour at Coventry Rugby Club’s home game against Esher Rugby Club on Saturday, February 20 at Butts Park Arena, Coventry - and will even take part in the half-time parade and guard of honour.

Matt Price, Community Manager at Coventry Rugby Club, said:

t is vital for children of all abilities to have access to high-quality rugby coaching which not only improves their health and sporting skills but also equips them with the skills needed to handle challenges off the field too.

We were delighted to deliver the programme, especially to children who might normally otherwise have not had access to the game.

Giving pupils the opportunity to see professional rugby at one of our home matches is an added bonus which we hope will encapsulate the spirit of the game inspire them to continue playing.

Schools which took part in the programme include Sherbourne Fields School in Rowington Close, Corley Centre in Church Lane, Woodfield School in Hawthorn Lane and Castle Wood School in Deedmore Road, with the remaining 4 special schools to complete a second pilot from April to July.