A Week in the life of……………….
A massive day for the Leeds Rugby Foundation with the opening of the Archie Gordon 3G pitch. A prime occasion to be able to showcase the foundations work and efforts. With a good few weeks planning behind it the opening day was a massive success. The day consisted of four local primary schools travelling to the Kirkstall site to experience rugby coaching from the Leeds Rugby Foundation staff, Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie first team players. While distinguished guests, Foundation trustees and Leeds Rugby staff had a tour of the facilities, the Foundation staff were left to do what we do best. The schools were treated to a huge fun warm up on the 3G pitch, then split into four different groups to be coached by the players and staff. The coaching was a massive hit with the children as they were able to interact and play games with their hero’s and also experience the game of rugby in a fun environment. The true test of the day came in the form of a 10 minute hail storm which highlighted the advantages of having an all-weather pitch at our disposal, and a true test of the children in the bleak weather who didn’t let us down and soldiered on through the bad weather. Finally the sun came out to round off the coaching in style. The children were thanked for their help and left to pose for photos with the players and mascots from both teams. For myself and the fellow Foundation staff a chance to warm up and mingle with the guests to finish off a fantastic event.
No rest for me, just about warmed up when I have to leave along with Iain Thornley and Tommy Bell, two of the Leeds Carnegie players for my weekly trip to Queen Ethelburga’s college where we coach pupils from year 6-11. A very cold, wet and windy session starting at 4.30 under floodlights the pupils soldiered on through the session, showing some real improvements and steps forward from the first week we had them in September. Wrapping up the session at 5.30 it was a brisk walk to the car, heater on full blast for the drive home after a long day.
Two primary schools to be visited today as part of the MBNA Tackling numbers programme. Sicklinghall Primary School and Oatlands Primary School in Harrogate are the recipients of my coaching expertise today. The Tackling Numbers programme is quite unique as it goes away from the normal model of schools tag rugby delivery as the programme involves 2 hours activity with the pupils taking part in an indoor maths lesson followed by an hours tag rugby session outdoor. The maths lessons devised by a group of teachers, following the national curriculum guidelines, covers a range of activities with the children making learning maths fun using rugby as a vehicle to get the important messages across. The first session at Sicklinghall school was a massive success with the children learning about graphs and tally charts in the maths session, then taking part in tag rugby games outside such as scarecrow tig, kabbaddi, and rats and rabbits. Leave Sicklinghall, quick stop for a sandwich then plough onto Oatlands school in Harrogate. A usual friendly welcome form the staff at the school before going outside to deliver the tag rugby session in typical British winter weather. But rather than stopping the session short and going inside the pupils tough it out and carry on outside-much to my displeasure!!!. Coming inside dripping wet and cold, a quick warm up in the staff room, then outside again for lesson two in the windy outskirts of Harrogate. Again the weather is no deterrent to the children as they seem to be immune to the conditions and are so focused on the rugby activity-seems like it’s only me feeling the cold today. A great finish top the lesson with the children taking part in a full tag rugby game-amazing seeing as 4 weeks ago most of the players hadn’t even touched a rugby ball!!!!. Off I plod back to Kirkstall to dry off and prepare the maths lessons for the next day!.
Morning spent collating all the worksheets for the maths lesson in the afternoon at Kirby Overblow primary school. A great bunch of children again who have really bought into the concept of the tackling numbers lessons and of course enjoy the rugby lessons too!!. The lesson was all about area and perimeter of shapes and which the children and myself included. The rugby session went as well as expected even with the odd rain shower inbetween.
A morning planning our Flagship Festival which will see 32 teams from around Yorkshire take part in a rugby festival across the U11 and U12 age groups. I'ts amazing the amount of planning that has to go into these events and I find myself spending most of the morning with Amy form the marketing department collating all the information that we need for the festival on Sunday and planning the day to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible. Then it's back in the car to Beckwithshaw Primary School for their last lesson in the coaching block. Unfortunately due to the torrential rain currently hammering the school we run an extened maths lesson indoors with the children taking part in a rugby quiz after the maths lesson. This goes down a storm (excuse the pun) with the children forming teams and using their knowledge gained over the last 5 weeks to answer maths questions and rugby general knowledge questions. What a great way to finish the coaching block and to my surprise I was presented with posters that the children had designed and created for me. I'ts always nice to receive things like this as it shows that the children have bought into the programme and feel that they would like to give something back as a way of a thank you. These posters will really brighten up my office and it really made my day!!!!.
Such an exciting day planned today, collating all the teams for Sundays big festival, pooling the teams and organising the teams registration packs. This is the worse part of hosting a festival of this size as so much has to be in place to ensure everything runs smoothly. This takes up so much of the day along with blowing up rugby balls and sorting cones into coloured piles! But it has to be done!. The last task of the day is to check the weather forecast for Sunday and hope for the best.
An early start today to get everything ready for the 28 rugby teams to arrive. Opening the Abbey fields at 7am to start setting the site up was definitely not a highlight of the day!. Pitches need setting out, bins put in place, the dome blown up, registration packs set out, the burger van to direct, the list goes on of tasks to do. Then comes the fantastic support mechanism that is fellow staff members and volunteers. Everyone swings into motion and the site is ready well before the festival registration time. 28 teams in total register across 2 age groups-a fantastic achievement getting so many rugby clubs to attend and support Leeds Carnegie’s flag ship festival. The teams, despite the constant rain had a fantastic time taking part in pool games then competing for an overall final for the U11’s and U12’s age group. The festival ran so smoothly which is a great testament to the staff at Leeds Carnegie and Leeds Rugby Foundation, with a visit from Chief Executive Gary Hetherington to see how the festival was doing. The finals wrapped things up just after 1pm with the overall winners from the U12’s age group being Sandal Rugby Club, and the U11’s trophy being shared by Sandal and Malton and Norton Rugby Club due to a tied final.
Then its straight up to Headinlgey once the site has been cleared to take the festivals teams on the pitch at Headingley for a half time parade and the winners to be presented with their medals by British Lion John Bentley. A fantastic end to the long week comes with the Carnegie boys sneaking a late win against the Cornish Pirates to keep the recent good form going. So a little insight into the life of Leeds Carnegie’s community manager, a varied role, always something different but a very, very enjoyable one!.