How Saltire Energy Scottish Rugby Schools’ Week Kickstarted a School Rugby Programme

How Saltire Energy Scottish Rugby Schools’ Week Kickstarted a School Rugby Programme

Saltire Energy Scottish Rugby Schools Week enters its fourth year when it returns on Monday 18 March. Supported by Saltire Energy, the programme celebrates existing rugby activity within the state school structure, as well as supporting and encouraging more schools to take that first step and get involved.

With Scottish Rugby providing encouragement and support to those who sign up, the aim of Schools Week is to engage as many state school pupils as possible in rugby activity and ignite the rugby spark within those who may not be as familiar with the game. There are a multitude of ways in which the programme is delivered, with in-person support, educational resources and enhanced marketing allowing it to reach over 600 state schools so far.

Last year, this assistance lit the fuse for West Calder High School in West Lothian, allowing their now flourishing rugby offering to get off the ground. Spearheaded by PE teacher Ashley Laing, she says that Schools Week provided the perfect platform to introduce the sport to pupils and is delighted with how much traction it has gained since.

Ashley Laing of West Calder High School, chats to Scottish Rugby about her School of Rugby progress.

She said: “This time last year just before Schools Week the school got a five-ball donation and that literally is the thing that drove us. I had those five balls and was like ‘right I can do a rugby lesson now’ and started doing it with some of my classes. Then Scottish Rugby Schools week came round the corner, so we had some events throughout the week and it’s just gained momentum from there”.

After the success School’s Week provided, Ashley has put in a power of work since to drive participation numbers at West Calder. She cited the help she has had along the way, and hopes this is just the start of a long and healthy rugby programme for the school. 

“Working with our local development officer has helped me drum up the school of rugby and we tried to start that in September/October 2023, so we’ve had it up and running since then. Obviously, we still haven’t done a full season, but we’re hoping it’s going to continue for the year after as well.”

Ashley highlighted that the introduction of rugby has helped build a strong community within the school, benefitting pupils who have previously struggled. It has also provided a platform for PE pupils to acquire a new sport that they can use for their National 5 and Higher qualifications.

“There is one pupil who was usually in a small group setting in class and he has taken up the school of rugby, and the excitement he gets from it is great. The other boys are really inclusive of him and I think that comes from the fact that rugby is a very inclusive sport. It develops social skills which is lovely to see.

“I also think it’s been really good in terms of attainment. In PE you need to have two sports for National 5 and Higher. We really struggled to get two activities for young people so we’re hoping that by driving this rugby programme we can find that extra activity that they may not already have”.

You can sign up and learn more about Schools Week- commencing March 18. Head to Saltire Energy Rugby Schools Week – Scottish Rugby for all the details.

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