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Schools urged to try out new Bears 5’s rugby festival and celebrate international rugby league double header

Secondary schools across Coventry are being urged to sign up to an innovative rugby festival that is celebrating a major rugby league tournament arriving in the area.

The Bears 5’s 4 Nations Schools Festival is taking place at the Alan Higgs Centre on Thursday, 3 November, and forms part of Coventry Bears’ touch rugby pilot “Bears 5’s” - a unique five- a-side rugby league programme that can be played as a touch rugby or contact game.

The festival is part of a nationally funded programme by Sport England and falls within Coventry’s ten year sports strategy to increase sporting participation in the city.

The festival will take place just two days before a mouth-watering Ladbrokes Four Nations double header clash at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, 5 November where England take on Scotland before world champions Australia tackle New Zealand - the first time in over a century that international rugby league visits the Midlands.

During the festival, schools will be able to meet a selection of players from each of the Four Nation teams and have their photograph with the Four Nations’ trophy and England Rugby League mascot “Grubber".

The festival is open to year 10 and 11 pupils, and schools can enter an unlimited number of mixed teams into the five-a-side tournament form these age groups.

Schools that take part in the festival will also receive two hours of free coaching per week from professional Coventry Bears rugby league players to prepare for the big day, with coaching at each school continuing until March 2017, aiming to introduce and sustain more youngsters in the sport.

Participants will also be entered into a prize draw to be a mascot for the Four Nations match day, and will also have the opportunity to win free tickets to the double header games.

Organised by Engage!, the event is part of the wider City of Rugby initiative to make Coventry a world leader at every level of the sport by 2023 – 200 years on from when the game was formed.

Tom Clift, Programme Manager at Engage! - an organisation which aims to improve lives through promoting the values of rugby, also co-ordinates the City of Rugby project on behalf of all key partners.

Tom Clift, Programme Manager of Engage! Coventry, said:

This is a fantastic opportunity for the city’s young people to have fun, get active and learn about a new sport. Bears 5’s is an innovative new rugby league concept and events like this are going to be key in helping to drive up participation levels in rugby league.

We’ve got off to a solid start by engaging with over 6,000 young people last year across all Engage!’s programme delivery, but we hope to increase this more through Bears 5s also.

Hosting major world class sporting events like the Four Nations provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase rugby league and our City on a global scale, so we’re looking to capitalise on that to harness young people’s interest in the game, and produce the next generation of talent.

Since Coventry Bears started delivering their Bears 5s pilot programme in Coventry, in the last six months over twelve hundred people have taken part in evening sessions at three community hub venues across the city.

Alan Robinson, Managing Director at Coventry Bears, added:

Interest in this new and innovative Bears 5’s format of the game has really taken off amongst adults and children because Bears 5’s is a great way of keeping fit and introducing people to the sport in a fun and controlled environment.

It’s exciting times for rugby league across Coventry with this programme and the Four Nations double header coming to Coventry and we are already starting to see more inquiries about how people can get involved in the sport.

The Bears 5’s 4 Nations Schools Festival will take place at the Alan Higgs Centre on Thursday, 3 November between 9am and 1pm.

All secondary schools wanting to take part in the Bears 5’s 4 Nations School Programme should contact .