With the 2019 Rugby World Cup just months away, students at Newcastle College have been given a golden opportunity to gain first-hand experience of an increasingly inclusive sport.
The College has entered into a groundbreaking partnership with Winlaton Rugby Club to boost participation, health and wellbeing.
The innovative agreement extends to recruiting players to Winlaton’s first all-female rugby team – reflecting the surge of interest in the women’s game following England’s 2017 World Cup win.
“I think students I know still see rugby as a boys’ sport and we want to change that,” said 16-year-old Lucy Ames.
The Uniformed Public Services student added: “Coming down to Winlaton and proving that we can play the game will help.
“We’ve already learnt how to tackle properly and picked up most of the basics. We’re hoping to set up a Newcastle College women’s team in September.”
The partnership allows Newcastle College to use Winlaton’s pitches for inclusive rugby and football sessions and, in return, Winlaton’s rugby players have access to the college’s sports hall for indoor training sessions and fitness work.
“This is a fantastic opportunity and the offer to play and train at Winlaton RFC is open to all of our students at all levels,” said David Lowes, Work Experience Coach at Newcastle College.
“For those who want to play competitively there’s a chance to join the club and degree students can work towards coaching qualifications.
“Students from across all of our curriculum areas can benefit and we’re able to offer specific sports enrichment opportunities around rugby and football for the first time.”
Students keen to train with Winlaton RFC can join training sessions every Tuesday evening.
And student teams will access additional training with Sport and Uniformed Public Service lessons timetabled to ensure players are free to practice on a Wednesday afternoon.
“Sport is life-changing and can make a real difference to students,” said Kyle McMorn who is two years into an extended diploma in Sport at Newcastle College.
“This is a great opportunity to get more people involved – whatever their ambitions or ability.”
Plans are in place to develop the partnership to include the provision of sport to students with disabilities.
And McMorn added: “There’s already been a huge amount of interest in the partnership. Loads of us came down to the first session – boys and girls – and we’re keen to start the new college teams as soon as possible.”