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Your News Local MP supports Rugby All Schools Programme
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Stephen McPartland MP applauded an initiative by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) that aims to get one million schoolchildren actively involved in sport after watching youngsters in action at Barnwell School in Stevenage on Friday (February 8).

Mr McPartland attended a practice session played by Year 8 students most of them brand new to rugby this season - at Barnwell, which is one of 100 establishments around England participating in the RFUs flagship All Schools programme.

Taking the opportunity of a fine winters day to run, catch and pass with a rugby ball himself, the Stevenage MP who was a wing three-quarter in his own schooldays found out first-hand the positive effect rugby is having on students at Barnwell, in an area traditionally associated with playing and watching football.

Rugby is well known for its values of respect and teamwork, and talking to the staff at Barnwell they have noticed the change in behaviour in students taking the game up, said Mr McPartland.

My primary focus in Parliament is education and giving kids a chance in life.

Rugby is great for teamwork and fun and that also makes it a great preparation for the workplace.

This RFU programme is giving more youngsters in state secondary schools the opportunity to try rugby, to see if its the sport for them.

All Schools has been launched by the RFU to create a step-change in the number of secondary schools playing rugby union. It forms one of the RFUs seven legacy strands of the Rugby World Cup 2015 to deliver the greatest participation legacy for the game.

Competitive rugby union is currently played in around 1500 state secondary schools. Through All Schools, the RFU aims to introduce the game into 400 non-rugby playing secondary schools by 2015 and up to 750 by 2019.

Barnwell and fellow Herts schools Goffs in Cheshunt and John Warner in Hoddesdon will receive resource and funding over three years, including kit and equipment, as well as hands-on coaching support.

The session Stephen McPartland took part in was coached by Barnwell PE teachers Mark Tyler and Matt Wardle, and led by the schools two Year 11 rugby ambassadors, Marcus and Lewis, who play for Bishops Stortford RFC and Hertford RFC respectively.

We are right next door to Stevenage Football Club and historically football has dominated the area, said teacher Matt Wardle.

We now have an after-school rugby club every Thursday and those who show an aptitude for the game are encouraged to join one of the many clubs in the county.

Theres a broad range of Year 7 and 8 students getting involved, and they are not all core sports players. Rugby can be played by all shapes and sizes, unlike some other games.

The behaviour of two or three of the students who have got into rugby at Barnwell has been transformed from a situation where they may have faced exclusion.

The personal discipline and self-motivation, and being part of a team, has allowed these boys to take this into their school life and make a positive change.

Sam Carpenter, the community rugby coach for the RFU in Hertfordshire, explained to Stephen McPartland MP how the All Schools programme is working in the county.

It includes Carpenter mentoring and supporting the Barnwell teachers, with the next step to guide them into Level Two rugby coaching courses.

Steve Grainger, the RFU Rugby Development Director, said: Rugby union is a game for All Schools all schools can play, all young people in the school can play and Rugby has an impact on all of the school. We want to use the once in a generation opportunity of the Rugby World Cup being hosted in England to increase the amount of rugby in schools and encourage new players to join local clubs.

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