Rugby heroes give Lycra a kicking

20th May 2005 at 01:00
I spent my extra day off on Bank Holiday Monday at the Grand Slam celebration in the Millennium Stadium. I wanted to say thank you to the team. Most Welsh people would agree with that sentiment, but I have an added reason for being grateful to Alf, Gavin and the rest.

They have liberated me from years of Lycra-induced torture and sweaty humiliation, endured in the name of Setting A Good Example To Children.

After years of teaching health in PSE, participating in fun runs and staff-versus-pupil rounders matches, I thought I was off the hook when I had children of my own and stayed at home for a few years.

Imagine my horror when I read in The TES that the biggest influence on whether children take up exercise is what they see their mothers do.

Not wanting the blame for having chronically unfit children led to years of bravely jogging, cycling, skating and skiing. I have raced for life, run for fun, and toddled for something or other. I have done all this despite being unfit, unco-ordinated and downright unable.

Needless to say, none of my efforts have had the slightest effect on either my own children or those I teach. However, five blistering games of rugby have succeeded where years of embarrassing lactic acid production on my part have failed. There has been a transformation in my children. They run round the local field passing a rugby ball back and forth. They want to know why there aren't girls' rugby teams in their schools. The effect on my pupils has been just as stark. Rugby balls have made a re-appearance at break, and spontaneous games take place, some of them even outside the buildings.

Of course, there is a downside. Red jerseys which look great on Grand Slam winning players look less than flattering on teachers of a certain age with large beer guts, and I haven't seen so many boys with hair gel since the last Duran Duran tour, but you can't have everything. It seems that success has a bigger effect on pupils' interest in sport than what their mothers do after all. (Obvious really - how many boys follow their mums into netball?) So thank you Alf, Gavin and the rest. Thanks to your influence I can hang up my Lycra leggings and enjoy guilt-free Friday nights eating chocolate by the telly.

Now, if you could just appear in your next publicity shoot with a packet of condoms in one hand and a plate of five fruit and veg in the other singing Sospan Fach, we could take PSE and Curriculum Cymreig off the curriculum altogether.

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