Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Academy Gives the Doubters a Real Kicking! Bede's Decision to Focus on Rugby Rather Than Football Pays off in Style COLLEGE RUGBY

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Academy Gives the Doubters a Real Kicking! Bede's Decision to Focus on Rugby Rather Than Football Pays off in Style COLLEGE RUGBY

Article excerpt

IT MAY be in the same town as famous nonleague football club Blyth Spartans and just 13 miles from St James's Park - but there was never any question of boys kicking a round ball in PE lessons at Bede Academy.

Rugby union was to be the principal game for boys when the Blyth-based academy opened in 2009 - despite the doubters who said football-mad youngsters would not be interested.

Seven years on, it remains the case many boys never encounter rugby until they get to Bede North - the secondary school of the Academy - despite the town also having a successful rugby club. Football remains the dominant religion.

Bede encountered the same scepticism as other schools in the Emmanuel Schools Foundation (ESF) - Emmanuel College in Gateshead and The King's Academy in Middlesbrough - who both favour rugby despite being in areas dominated by football.

However, whether it is the camaraderie, the competition or the chance to spend 80 minutes running at each other, by year eight many Bede boys are hooked on the oval-ball game.

Principal Gwyneth Evans said: "We see rugby as a more inclusive, universal game which all boys can enjoy.

"It recognises boys develop at different stages and has the flexibility to allow them to change positions if necessary as they grow.

"It also teaches them how to appreciate the different skills and abilities within the team, the discipline of training and practice and the understanding of strategy and the appreciation of complex rules, all of which can support their learning across many other subjects.

"Building character is at the heart of what we do and rugby supports that."

As rugby has grown at Bede - each year group has its own competitive squad with at least one fifth of all boys playing matches on a regular basis - clubs have begun the take notice.

Leading the charge is Tom Marshall, a 6ft 2ins 16-year-old No 8 who is already in the Newcastle Falcons' Academy. …

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