Schools Promoting the Next Generation of Coaches and Officials

Schools Promoting the Next Generation of Coaches and Officials

As Saltire Energy Scottish Rugby Schools Week rolls around again, the power of work being done by schools to provide opportunities across all aspects of rugby is pushed into the limelight.

Naturally, the mind jumps to thinking about the playing side of the game- where the majority of the glitz and the glamour lies in the professional game. However, there are an array of other potential careers within the sport which are sometimes given less consideration but remain vital for the game’s longevity.

This is something which Shawlands Academy in Glasgow has explored, narrowing their focus towards offering a range of opportunities which aim to inspire the next generation of rugby coaches and officials.

At present, Shawlands accommodate several programmes to develop the skillset of senior pupils for a rugby career without the physical battle scars that being a player brings. To date, these have attracted impressive levels of engagement and are only set to grow more popular.

Adam Campbell- Principal Teacher of Senior Phase Wider Achievement at Shawlands, emphasised how beneficial the courses are to the pupils who participate in them.

“Leadership opportunities such as refereeing and coaching has given our young people at Shawlands the chance to develop their communication, organisation and teamwork skills while also helping to develop their own ability within rugby.

“Our senior rugby leaders (who have completed their coaching essentials course) have helped to develop our younger pupils in training and by helping to coach/referee during games. They have also recently been coaching rugby to our local feeder primary schools”.

Each year, the season culminates in a transition event to allow the Sports Leaders and Rugby Ambassadors to put their learnings into practice. The transition day involves Shawlands’ six feeder schools, who each send both a boys and a girls’ team to compete in a round-robin event.

The event is entirely staffed by senior pupils and acts as a conclusion of their season. Sports Leaders take up coaching roles as the outcome of their Rugby Activators programme and the S5/6 Rugby Ambassadors referee games as outcome of their Coaching Essentials course.

Both courses and the transition event have been driven by Shawlands for several years as part of their leadership values within their school of rugby. Their recent steps have been towards extending their offering to third-year students- the fourth year they have provided coaching opportunities for.

Adam hopes that branching out to a new age group will see participation levels continue to increase and noted that the rising levels of secondary pupil coaches increases the capacity for more primary kids to pick up a rugby ball for the first time.

“This year we have also been able to offer leadership opportunities to our S3 pupils (who have completed their rugby activators course). They have taken part in coaching younger pupils within the school, coaching a primary 6/7 after school club and have also led 2 rugby transition events, involving 6 primary schools and 120 pupils.

“At Shawlands we have an ethos of promoting a positive and welcoming environment for our young people to flourish. Our rugby leaders have been able to share their experience and love for the game and have encouraged younger pupils to also enjoy and engage with rugby”.

As a result of the courses, a number of pupils have gone down this avenue for further education and have pursued careers in Primary and PE teaching. The lasting impact that Shawlands’ coaching offering clearly has was demonstrated by the fact that several leavers have returned to the school to work as consultant coaches.

Aside from the work done by schools to encourage new referees to come forward, Scottish Rugby also facilitate officiating courses for those as young as 15. Those who complete the ‘Introduction to Match Officiating’ course are permitted to referee rugby matches from S1 level upwards. The course aims to equip match officials with fundamental refereeing skills, while also including a tackle/contact safety session to ensure safe practice at all levels of the game, and to raise awareness of concussion protocols.

To access the course, a sign-up to the Scottish Rugby Management System (SCRUMS) website is required. Once the course has been completed a certificate of completion is available to download on the site- which acts as a hub and a log for all course progress. There are also six referee societies across Scotland- Edinburgh, Borders, West of Scotland, Midlands, Aberdeen and Highland. All these societies support recruitment, development and deployment of referees within their region.

Scottish Rugby’s Game Development team continue to cater for the aspirations of all coaches across the country. These provide vital learnings both in relation to rugby and general player wellbeing. Courses range from a first responder qualification to a specific scrum school. Again, each of these courses can be accessed through the SCRUMS portal.

With the combined efforts of local schools like Shawlands and Scottish Rugby, the current opportunities to immerse in the world of rugby coaching and refereeing are accessible for all. By expanding and encouraging setups like Shawlands’ to more schools, the future of these vital roles within the game will continue to look healthy.

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