Drop kick propels rugby into schools

28th November 2003 at 00:00
World Cup winner Trevor Woodman this week urged schools to use England's historic victory to create more rugby stars.

"This country is mad on sport," said the state-school-educated prop. "Now it's important to find a new generation of rugby players."

The 27-year-old, who was educated at Liskeard community school and college, in Cornwall, spoke to The TES as the nation was gripped in the euphoria of England's first major sporting title since 1966.

"Winning the World Cup will increase participation in rugby in schools," said Mr Woodman, who plays for Gloucester. "What we have achieved has given rugby a massive boost."

The Rugby Football Union is determined to capitalise on England's nail-biting 20-17 win against Australia last Saturday. It wants a 5 per cent increase in the number of young players by the end of next year and is developing non-contact, or touch rugby, to unearth future Woodmans and Jonny Wilkinsons.

Sixteen of the 31-strong England squad are from state schools. Liskeard has a strong tradition of rugby and has teams in all year groups for boys.

Girls are also encouraged to play.

Alan Sedgley, head, said: "The pupils haven't stopped talking about England's win this week.

"They have been inspired. We are sure that we may have a few more future stars within our ranks."

However, Nigel Hook, the former head of policy for the Central Council for Physical Recreation, said that many schools did not have the time or the resources to make trips to fields or rugby clubs.

"There are not enough fields and the fields that there are are often in a very poor state," he said, calling on the Government to halt the sale of school playing fields.

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