Ospreys Host 'small Schools' Rugby Festival In

Four local primary schools across the Bridgend area attended a special rugby festival hosted by the Ospreys last week to help headteachers develop sporting links with other schools of similar size.

Around 60 primary school children aged between eight and 11 from Llangynwyd, Heol Y Cyw, Coychurch and Tynyrheol schools took part in the tag-rugby day at Maesteg Celtic RFC, giving children the opportunity to play rugby against other schools for the first time. Bridgend has become a 'hot spot' for producing world-class rugby talent, with Lee Byrne, Gareth Thomas, Rob Howley and Scott Gibbs having all grown up in the town.

Supported by one of Ospreys key sponsors, Warburtons, this was the second of four annual festival dates to take place throughout 2009 and was organised by Gary Clement, Ospreys Player Development Officer for Bridgend, with support from community coach and Maesteg RFC hooker, Dean Ronan, and two of Ospreys Under 20 players, Joe Rees and Sam Kiley.

Sue Hurry, Headteacher at Coychurch Primary School, hailed the success of the event. She said:

"As the new Headteacher of a small school I am keen to develop our sporting links with other schools of a similar size. The Small Schools Tag Rugby Festivals held in Bridgend has enabled my pupils to play in competitive matches and it has provided them with the opportunity to display their rugby skills to a wider audience.

"The school has been supported by the Osprey's Development Team for a number of years and weekly coaching session has allowed both boys and girls to play Tag Rugby after school. The Tag Festivals have proved to be very successful for our school and this has encouraged me to work with Gary Clements to introduce some contact rugby coaching sessions at our school. The introduction of 10 a-side contact rugby at a small school like Coychurch is fully supported by my Governors, parents and of course the pupils. The children are all looking forward to wearing their new rugby kits and getting them muddy."

Regional Performance Development Manager for the Ospreys, Andrew Millward, added:

"Every child deserves to have the chance to play a sport they love every week, whether its rugby, football or cricket and so with this latest initiative we are able to give schools who don't have a large pool of children actively playing rugby an opportunity to play a seven a-side game, and get a taste of what professional players do as part of their every day work.

"As both Joe Rees and Sam Kiley who helped us at the event will tell you, this is a key age for future rugby stars, where they can develop a passion for the game. With Gary Clement now on board as the Player Development Officer for Bridgend, we will work closely with clubs and schools in creating sustainable playing opportunities for this age group as we look to strengthen the game across the region at grass roots level."

Ospreys highly rated youngsters Joe Rees and Sam Kiley attended the festival to meet the Bridgend youngsters, sign autographs and to pass on rugby tips to those taking part in the event. Joe Rees commented:

"The whole day was a huge success and I loved being part of it. I remember what it was like to play rugby against your local school, the excitement of it, so it is great to see schools that don't have enough pupils to make up a full team come together and pit their skills against eachother.

"I'm fully behind any initiative like this that will get more children in the Bridgend area playing rugby and hopefully in years to come we will see an influx of home-grown talent pulling on the black and white jersey of Ospreys, which was one of the proudest days of my life."