New school rugby competition launched

4:46pm Monday 19th November 2007

By Citizen reporter

Another major initiative to develop schools rugby has been launched with great success in the Fylde & Wyre area.

The new RUFFS (Rugby Union Football in Fylde Schools) Leagues began in September with the minimum of fuss and publicity.

Eight senior schools in the Fylde & Wyre area have been involved in a weekly league competition at U12, U13, U14 and U16 levels.

The schools involved to date are Baines High School, Poulton-le-Fylde, Broughton High School, Preston, Cardinal Allen High School, Fleetwood, Carr Hill High School, Kirkham, Fleetwood High School, Garstang High School, Lytham St Annes High School, St Aidan's High School, Poulton-le-Fylde.

The idea of the leagues is to give young people attending local schools a taste of regular rugby in a well organised, suitably competitive and enjoyable format.

Some of these students will play competitive games already in school teams and/or clubs but many others won't have had that opportunity.

The philosophy of RUFFS is to keep the ball in hand and to develop excellent all-round skills. To further this aim, no kicking from hand or to touch is allowed, neither are there any goal kicks.

It's only tries that count in scoring terms.

This keeps the game fluid and dynamic.

Organiser Alan Holmes, Fylde RFC's Rugby development manager, has been delighted with the response of the schools and the boys involved. He said: "We're half-way through the competition and start again after the February 2008 half-term.

"We play the games at the various schools on Tuesday afternoons after school hours to we have to suspend the league until we have more hours of daylight in the late winter.

"Fylde RFC has excellent relationships with the public schools in the area.

"They have great rugby traditions and produce many excellent players who come to this club and others.

"RUFFS is aimed at those schools who haven't necessarily the same tradition of playing rugby and often concentrate on soccer and other sports.

"But the potential talent in these schools is immense!

"There have been thirty games played so far, involving some 330 young people.

"The standard has been excellent and the improvement in technique is down to enthusiastic coaching by the teachers who've been involved.

"We're encouraging teachers to become RFU qualified coaches so as to build on this achievement.

"In fact, some already are.

"Also, we're creating opportunities for young volunteers from the schools to attend a referee's course and assist with the running of the league.

"For instance, 16-year-old Joe Maden-Wilkinson (Baines School) has refereed a number of games and has done very well indeed."

At the half-way stage in the leagues, Cardinal Allen lead the U'12s table; Broughton head the U13s league; Lytham St Annes High lead the U14s and Fleetwood High the U16s table.

Further information from Alan Holmes, Fylde RFC's Rugby Development Manager, on 01253 734733 or email alan.holmes@fylderugby.co.uk for details.

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