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White Rose Schools Rugby Series case study

At White Rose Rugby we work closely with secondary schools in Yorkshire to provide the opportunities for a range of ages and abilities to participate in an enjoyable, participation focused and sustainable series of rugby festivals.

Previously the series was named the White Rose Schools Rugby Series but we have recently changed this to the Yorkshire Rugby Series with an aim to continue to grow the series. This reinvigoration of the series has also seen us create a stronger link with the Yorkshire County Schools Union to help the continual build of participation levels in rugby across our County.

The aim of the Yorkshire Rugby Series is to provide the opportunity for schools to attend participation focused festivals. By this we mean festivals that focus on getting participants involved at the same time as providing some friendly competition with local schools.
We host festivals for Year 7 to Year 13 for Boy’s and for Under 13, 15 & 18 Girl’s from a range of backgrounds and abilities. The festivals provide opportunities for teachers to network and arrange further fixtures or festivals for future points in the season.
We promote a ‘bring what you can’ policy, where schools bring however many players they have available and other schools help to facilitate games to go ahead by lending players or allowing schools to mix to create a team.

For the upcoming 2021/22 season we will be running 281 festivals across Yorkshire. These festivals will currently be attended by 86 schools from around the County. This number continues to grow as we continue to receive new entries. Our rugby series welcomes a range of secondary schools from traditional and non-traditional rugby playing schools. The total number of team entries for the upcoming season is 434. In the 2018/2019 season we hosted 248 festivals, despite Covid-19 and other factors that have effected school sports over the past 2 years we have seen a 13.3% increase in the number of festivals for the upcoming season. We hope this number continues to grow.

We always promote the RFU core values at our festivals. They underpin everything we do at the festivals. We promote players, teachers, club members and parents/guardians use the core values and correct touchline behaviour throughout every festival. The core values are Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship.
For those participating in the festival, we provide the opportunity to take part in an enjoyable and friendly environment that supports development and fun. We also promote local rugby clubs to those whom are interested in continuing to play rugby outside of school and provide key information to help aid the transition to grass root clubs.

Over the past 4 years we have liaised directly with schools. We have on-going communication with the schools that take part in the Yorkshire Rugby Series. We send an Email and WhatsApp message to the members of staff responsible for the age group invited to the Festivals. Communicating with schools and teachers isn’t always the easiest, because of this we have trailed numerous ways and types of communications through the years. Through our experience, we have found we receive the best response rates from emails and WhatsApp messages. To store all of the contact details we have a database which contains contact details for each school, but also the teams that they have. Our database is ever  changing, we strive to ensure all of the contact details and information is up to date and correct.

We hand-pick venues for the series. Festivals at grassroot rugby clubs help to aid the transition between school rugby to club rugby. Rugby clubs offer Floodlights, guaranteed pitches and an opportunity for participants to view their local rugby club.
We also host festivals at schools, selecting schools on their facilities and accessibility for other local schools. We also select schools express a strong passion in taking part in the series. We are also hosting many of our festivals on RFU Artificial Grass Pitches, this enables us to ensure festivals can go ahead throughout the year.

At the end of each season we host a Day of Rugby; A full day of rugby which all schools are invited too. The day includes games, coaching and the opportunity for schools to create communication links outside of their areas. The Day of Rugby creates opportunity for development; the environment created supports the development of rugby skills and core values. This year we will be hosting three separate Days of Rugby. We will be Hosting a Year 7-10 boys, A 1st Team boy’s and a Under 13,15 and 18’s girls festival.

Our festivals follow a round robin template, with no finals or overall winner. We advise schools to forget about scoring and winning, and push the development of participants. Despite removing the winning aspect from the competitions, the competition shown between teams is still high and a great sporting atmosphere is created. School teachers and members of tour team help to referee and manage the festival on the day, their role is to simply ensure enjoyment and push for development throughout.

Overall the White Rose Rugby series creates the opportunity to grow participation in rugby at Schools at and the grassroot level. The series allows participants to develop and learn new rugby skills for on and off the field but also develop their Core values


Andy Fradgeley – Rugby Development Officer, England Rugby

“The White Rose Schools Rugby Series has hugely influenced the amount of school rugby being played across Yorkshire. The Series has provided opportunities for both All Schools and non-traditional rugby playing schools to play the game regularly, in a safe, fun & development focused environment. Through White Rose organising the Series, RFU staff have been able to focus on the transition of school rugby players to club rugby, which has sustained and grown teams across Yorkshire. The relaxed approach at festivals allows members of staff to build connections with other schools, which has resulted in staff now organising stand-alone fixtures against suitable opposition. The Day of Rugby is a personal highlight of mine, which encapsulates everything that is great about our game, again focussing on development and the Core Values. It has been a pleasure working with the team at White Rose, and I am looking forward to collaborating further with them in the future, growing the game of rugby.”


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