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Schools swap playground for pitch as part of tag rugby festival

More than 80 Coventry schoolchildren swapped the playground for the pitch to tackle rugby – some for the first time – with support from a former England international.

Six schools from across the city took part in a Wasps community rugby programme which culminated in a tag rugby festival at Coventry Sport Foundation’s Centre AT7 in Bell Green Road.

Former England winger and Wasps Ambassador Paul Sackey attended the tournament, which saw 84 children aged between eight–to-10-years-old participate, and he also coached teams by providing advice to players.

The programme, called Aviva Tackling Numbers, was delivered in schools for Wasps by Engage! Coventry and is part of Premiership Rugby’s BreakThru campaign – which aims to develop sustainable health, education and social change outcomes through rugby.

Over the course of six weeks, children’s understanding of and confidence in numerical skills increased as classroom sessions and practical number-based tag rugby games were combined in an effort to inspire children to be more active both physically and in the classroom.

Tom Clift, programme manager for Engage!, said:

The game of rugby and its core values such as teamwork, respect and discipline have multiple benefits both on and off the pitch since they apply to real life situations as well.

The festival of rugby at Centre AT7 was a culmination of all of the schools’ hard work and support, and every pupil relished the opportunity to put their skills to the test.

Having Paul Sackey attend to coach the tournament also allowed them to enhance the skills they had developed throughout the programme as they learned from an expert and took inspiration from a former professional player.

Engage! is aiming to work with partners to deliver rugby coaching to every child in Coventry over the coming years and programmes such as Aviva Tackling Numbers are fantastic in engaging pupils – which in turn helps us to develop the game and increase participation in schools across the city.

Engage! is a city-wide initiative which uses the core values of rugby to provide social and educational benefits as a way of developing healthy, well-rounded, confident young people.

Ian Isham, Wasps’ community development manager, said:

As Wasps looks to increase engagement within the community and support rugby in the city, programmes such as Aviva Tackling Numbers provide a great opportunity to increase participation and develop the game in Coventry.

The tag rugby festival is the sixth that has been run and each one has been more popular than the last, with participation increasing each time.

Schools which took part were: John Shelton Primary School, in Briscoe Road; Christ The King Catholic Primary School in Scots Lane; Clifford Bridge Primary School in Coombe Park Road; Keresley Grange Primary School in Waste Lane; St John's C of E Primary School in Winsford Avenue and Moat House Community Primary School in Deedmore Road.

For more information about Engage!, follow them on Twitter via @EngageCoventry, and to find out more about the Aviva Tackling Numbers programme, search #AvivaTacklingNumbers.