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The benefits of rugby as a discipline for kids

by Leana Kell

The government has recently announced a number of leading rugby players are being brought in to teach inner-city children discipline, teamwork and resilience.

Rugby players will be sent to inner-city schools under a new scheme devised to improve the problem of Britain's disadvantaged youth. The scheme has been championed by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and is set to reach 17,000 UK children.

Former Saracens captain and England player, Hugh Vyvyan, who supports the project, said: ‘Bringing the core values of rugby into a child’s life early on can make a huge difference.

‘Rugby is the perfect sport to be able to teach character education because it’s built on teamwork and respect.’

Centurion investigates below how can the game of rugby can influence children in a positive way.

Is rugby dangerous?

It has been widely debated in the media whether rugby is in fact a dangerous sport for children, but according to experts, rugby is in fact one of the best disciplines you can offer to a child. Up to the age of 9, it is a non-contact sport, whereby touch or flag rugby is played. Between the ages of 9 and 11 children are then taught how to tackle and start getting into contact, but it is not until high school that rugby becomes a tackle sport.

Equal opportunities

Rugby provides children with equal opportunities to run with the ball, pass with the ball and play defence. Unlike football, it's much harder for a 7-a-side game to be dominated by one really good player, you need everyone to participate, and because of that nobody gets left out.

The rules promote safety

The teaching of safe tackling and safe contact in rugby is a must. In fact, Rugby has long since promoted safety across all sports in general. For example, all the talk in football about changing how players tackle has come from rugby while concussion protocol in sports has been led using approaches rugby teams have used for years such as mandatory and strict stand-down times.

Morals and ethics

All children who participate in rugby are taught to respect their coaches and referees. Children are encouraged to play in a fair manner and accept the role of the referee, which can be illustrated by looking at the excellent officiating from the group of World Cup 2015 referees. The referees set a great example to sport in general in relation to how a game should be played. When foul play did take place, the offending player was called over and responded immediately, keeping quiet while he was spoken to by the referee - illustrating how skills of discipline and self-control are considered pivotal to the success of the game.

Creativity is encouraged

Creativity and problem solving are both high on the agenda for children learning to play rugby. During the game, players will learn how to make tricky decisions which will in turn help them to gain confidence as they learn the rules of the game. Through rugby, children can develop the capability to analyse and deduce general principles in life which can in turn boost their mental, social and physical agility.

Social skills are developed

Rugby is a highly social sport with plenty of interaction between team members. Players will learn how to work well as a team and will think about how decisions that are made will benefit not just themselves, but also their peers. Rugby also teaches children that there are boundaries and rules which need to be followed and provides children with responsibilities.

Under the new initiatives outlined by Nicky Morgan, the government aims to roll out intensive 33-week training courses for almost 500 youngsters who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Mrs Morgan said: ‘The evidence is showing us that students will obtain even better results if they are emotionally resilient, if they have got strong mental well-being, if they’ve got those skills of persistence.

‘Rugby can teach teamwork skills, confidence, persistence, respect and being a good loser.’