In the short six weeks the All Schools programme has been in place at Ashington High School, sports coaches are seeing a 54% increase in the number of pupils taking up rugby.
Led by Rugby World Cup organisers the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football Foundation, the three-year initiative aims to encourage new players to the game while increasing confidence and discipline among students.
New equipment, specialist coaches and student-designed Canterbury kits have kicked off the project at Ashington High School with impressive results.
P.E. teacher Nick Storey leads the weekly rugby training for students aged 11 to 19. He said: “Historically the school had good links with Ashington Rugby Club but over the years this tradition has fallen away as football and cricket grew in popularity.
“It got to the point where we had a team of just 10 pupils playing one or two games. Since starting the project in September we’ve had a fantastic response. We’re now seeing more than 50 students wanting to play each week with staff receiving expert training from rugby coaches so they can lead sessions.
“It has had an impact on the whole school allowing pupils and staff to develop their skills. The All Schools programme is helping improve pupils’ confidence, teamwork, discipline and enjoyment of the game.”
With more than 50 teenagers donning their boots and numbers expected to grow the school has had to consider a new kit.
Taking on the task of designing the new Ashington High strip were pupils Harry Watson, Owen Gray, Ethan Turnball and Aaron McDonald.
They headed to Consett Rugby Club with Canterbury kit designers to thrash out their ideas ahead of the new kits arriving in February.
Wanting to acknowledge their town’s mining heritage the group have included the Woodhorn pit wheel on the back of the shirt with the school house teams represented in each quarter of the wheel.
Mr Storey added: “Along with the wheel students wanted to include the school’s shooting star logo representing that every pupil has the potential to stand out and excel.
“To have this level of involvement in designing the kit will produce something they can be hugely proud of wearing when representing their school and town in future matches.”
To find out more about the school visit www.ashingtonhigh.org