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St Joseph's School

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Involvement and support from the whole school community, with parents taking on a more active role by forming a rugby committee.

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Aim/Focus: Community

To create a culture where physical activity (PA) is valued and encouraged.

An important part of this focus is to provide our students and wider school community with opportunities and access to events and activities that will see them adopting a positive attitude and more physically active lifestyle.

This report outlines the journey we went on, which provided an opportunity for the boys at our school by starting up a school rugby team to compete in weekend club competition.

Background

Game plan

The initial idea of starting a school rugby team came about as a direct result of the Auckland Rugby Union sending out a flyer promoting registration for junior club rugby in our area.

It was noted that Marist Rugby Football Club was not on the list. Our Principal, who has links with Marist Rugby Football Club, thought it would be a good idea for the school to start up a rugby team under the club’s banner, because both work towards upholding Catholic faith and traditions, which are a major part of our school’s special character.

Initial contact was made with Marist Rugby Football Club and, with the help of the Lead Teacher for physical activity (PA) at the school, we were able to start planning the next steps in turning this idea into a reality.

Process undertaken

Pre-game preparation

One of the first things to be done was to see whether there would be interest and support from the students and wider school community. This was achieved by holding a Club Night at our school, organised by the Active Schools Facilitator (ASF). We were able to make our idea even more appealing and accessible to the families in our school community by reducing the cost of subscriptions from $85 to $40 by providing our own jerseys and shorts, as well as using the school grounds for training.

As a result, 43 boys registered with the Auckland Rugby Union under the club name Marist St Josephs, allowing us to enter three teams – one under-7 and two under-9 – to compete in the weekend competitions. With the teams sorted and by enlisting the help of a few keen parents and teachers in the roles of coaches and managers, we were able to start our training. The rugby season for the boys was under way!

Lessons learnt

Kick-off

As with most things being done for the first time, there are always a few teething problems – the Marist St Joseph’s rugby teams were no exception.

As the season progressed, we encountered problems that made us re-evaluate and change the way things were being done, and in some cases put something in place that was missing. This was a dynamic process. Two of the major problems we encountered were with rugby jerseys and after-school training.

The school did not have enough rugby jerseys to cover all the teams, so new ones had to be purchased. In the meantime, we were able to borrow some, which proved to be a problem because they needed to be returned each week. Getting new jerseys was a long, drawn-out exercise, having to wait for samples to arrive, then deciding on the jersey we liked, and then having to wait for our order to be made up and delivered. We did not end up getting the jerseys until halfway through the season.

Training after school proved to be a problem at first. A number of boys were already involved in after-school activities or commitments, so training times had to be juggled throughout the season to try to accommodate everyone.

As most of the coaches were parent volunteers who worked during the day, there were occasions when they were unable to make the training times, which left the boys unsupervised. We were able to overcome this problem with the help of some teachers and other parents, who supervised teams until the coaches turned up.

Outcomes

Our season

All the Marist St Joseph’s teams had successful seasons – perhaps not in terms of games won, but looking at how each team progressed from the start of the season.

The Vikings Under-9 Open team had a very successful season and won every game they played. Most of these boys had played club rugby, but for two players this was their first time playing rugby.

Dynamites Under-9 Restricted was put together as the result of too many boys wanting to play, and comprised under-9 and under-7 players. As first timers, this team tried very hard, and they were complimented by opposing team coaches and supporters on their tackling abilities and ball skills .

Under 7 Saints consisted entirely of new players, including a nine-year-old player with cerebral palsy.

Reflection

The final whistle

There were many direct benefits of the school having the rugby teams. Not only was there the chance to have regular PA and learn new skills through the game of rugby, the boys were presented with opportunities they would not otherwise have had ‑ to participate in the annual Pompallier Shield tournament and Eden Park March Past to mark the beginning of the Super 14 competition.

Successes

  • From parent feedback, it is evident that this was a very positive and influential move by St Joseph’s School. Parents have enjoyed turning up to games and supporting their sons from the sidelines. We have had parents, especially fathers, willing to coach and support their sons in learning new skills. We have even had parents signing up for the next year’s season.
  • Teachers have found that students who played this season are more settled and have more positive social skills.
  • Involvement and support from the whole school community, with parents taking on a more active role by forming a rugby committee.
  • The most positive achievement has been the participation of boys, and the fun they had playing as a team representing their school.

Next steps

From a teaching and learning point of view, there is a need to see whether the creation of these teams has had an effect on the attitudes and interest of the boys in formal physical education, and on them adopting a lifestyle “where physical activity is valued and encouraged”.


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