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Pupils swap their books for boots with help from Glasgow Warriors

St Thomas Aquinas Rugby

Rugby at St Thomas Aquinas RC secondary school is a roaring success.

While all eyes are on Scotland's international stars ahead of Saturday's Calcutta Cup match at BT Murrayfield, pupils at one Glasgow school were busy training to be the next generation of internationals.

As St Thomas Aquinas RC is now one of Scottish Rugby's CashBack Schools of rugby, rugby-mad S1s and S2s have the opportunity to scrum down as part of their curriculum, with support from local rugby club Glasgow Warriors.

The children are in safe hands under the watchful eye of Glasgow Warriors community coach Stuart Lewis, who is based at nearby Scotstoun Stadium, and former Glasgow Warriors forward Finlay Gillies, now a PE teacher at the school.

Both have helped embed rugby culture and values within the school and play rugby for 2-3 hours within their timetable. 

"We now have full squads taking part in both first and second year. As rugby is part of the curriculum, it ultimately allows the kids to play more, which is crucial to their development", said Stuart.

"School is the easiest place to get kids involved in sport and there are huge benefits in terms of health, behaviour and attendance. The skill level is growing and it is transferable across a number of sports. 

"This ultimately could have a huge impact right up to international level, as a wider player pool will benefit the game massively."

As well as support from rugby, the school also benefits from a link with local community club Glasgow Hawks, where Finlay now plays. Gary Strain, the development officer based at the Old Anniesland club, also plays an integral role in delivering the scheme.

St Thomas Aquinas headteacher Andrew McSorley said: "It has been a fantastic experience for our pupils working with the Glasgow Warriors, who have become such an important part of our local community since their move to Scotstoun Stadium. The link provides S1 and S2 students with the chance to learn rugby through fun coaching sessions.

"And while the partnership is great in a sporting sense it also teaches pupils about the health and nutritional benefits associated with keeping fit. That has been really good for our young students as they prepare to enter such a vital period in their education with the Warriors players acting as fantastic role models in every sense."  

More Information

The CashBack Schools of Rugby programme was launched in 2011 with the aim of re-establishing rugby at the heart of the school experience in a number state secondary schools across Scotland.

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