Dan Suter and James King caused a stir when they dropped into Ysgol Gymraeg Gellionen in recently.
Suter, a Wales U20 cap, and King, now in the senior Wales squad for the Six Nations, spent the morning with pupils who have been participating in the Ospreys Schools Programme, chatting with the children and taking part in a rugby skills session.
The player visit is one of the highlights of the innovative programme, a groundbreaking initiative launched this season by the Ospreys which uses rugby as an educational tool, helping improve not only rugby participation numbers but also numeracy and literacy, understanding healthy living, and how to look after the planet. All sessions have been designed in conjunction with the education departments at Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea Councils to ensure they satisfy National Curriculum objectives and assists in the development of key skills.
Tom Sloane, WRU/Ospreys Participation Officer for the Swansea District, has been a regular visitor to Gellionen to deliver rugby sessions to the pupils. He commented:
“The Ospreys School Programme is leading the way in terms of community interaction, providing Year 5 and Year 6 pupils in the region with meaningful contact with the Ospreys which is helping to create real long-term relationships, inspiring children to get involved in rugby and helping to create well rounded young people.
“As you’d expect, the children really look forward to getting a special visit from some of the players and it was no different at Gellionen. They were excited to meet Dan and James, who were excellent with them, passing on rugby tips and chatting with the youngsters. It was just a shame we didn’t have all day!”
Teachers at participating schools receive a handbook allowing them to deliver four classroom sessions, while the pupils have their own handbook that serves as a permanent reminder of their experience. Each session includes a school visit from a WRU/Ospreys Participation Officer or Community Coach who will deliver rugby FUNdamentals sessions, Ospreys players joining them for one of the sessions.
Once the handbook has been completed, the children then get to enjoy a specially designed interactive Liberty Stadium Tour that takes them behind the scenes at the home of the Ospreys, the undisputed highlight being a special audio/visual experience in the home changing room that replicates the match day environment, and there is also the chance to visit the SONY UK Technology Centre in Pencoed. A rugby festival day between cluster schools rounds off the programme.