Some of rugby league’s top stars recently paid a visit to a school rugby festival in Coventry.
Players from current world champions Australia, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic, and England’s Elliott Whitehead, Daryl Clark and Luke Gale visited the Coventry Bears 5s 4 Nations Schools Festival at the Alan Higgs Centre.
Eight schools battled it out for a trophy in a five-a-side touch rugby competition to celebrate the arrival of the Four Nations rugby league tournament at the Ricoh Arena and as part of the Sport England funded Bears 5’s pilot programme.
Each school received warm ups and team talks from one of the Australian and England players, as well as the opportunity to take part in a question and answer session.
Caludon Castle School ran out eventual winners, beating Stoke Park in the final. Other schools taking part were President Kennedy School and Community College, The Westwood Academy, Coundon Court School and Community College, Ernesford Grange Community School, Lyng Hall School, Sidney Stringer Academy and Stoke Park School and Community Technology College.
England scrum-half Luke Gale said:
“Events like this are important for rugby league, particularly in new areas for the sport. I remember coming to events like this when I was a kid and seeing stars stood on the side-lines.
“No doubt the kids will go away and tell their friends and family about what a great day they had, and that’s how the sport grows really.
“I’ve been telling the kids to just enjoy the experience. People take it far too seriously, but at this age it’s important for kids to just enjoy it and express themselves.
“I’ve been really impressed with the set up in Coventry. I’ve spent some time playing with some of the boys and girls who have got some great skills, it’s really exciting to see and the more we can grow our game into new areas, the better.”
The Coventry Bears 5s 4 Nations Festival, was organised by Engage! – an organisation aiming to improve lives through promoting the values of rugby in partnership with Coventry Bears. The festival is also part of the wider City of Rugby initiative to make Coventry a world leader at every level of the sport by 2023.
Since Coventry Bears started delivering Bears 5’s, an innovative, new five-a-side touch rugby programme in Coventry, in the last six months over 1,400 people have taken part.
Coventry Bears Managing Director Alan Robinson added:
“We’re really keen to grow the sport in the city and into communities that wouldn’t normally get the opportunity, so it’s been great to see the England and Australian players talking to kids about how they got involved in the sport at a grassroots level.
“We’re hoping to grow our Bears 5’s programme in the New Year and would urge as many secondary schools as possible to take part.”
For more information about Bears 5s visit www.cityofrugby.org/bears-5s
Photo caption: Back row left to right, Jake Trbojevic, Tyson Frizell, Daryl Clark, Luke Gale and Elliott Whitehead with school pupils and the Four Nations trophy.