Last month, Seaford College joined forces with Canford School and renamed their usual rugby fixture as Stand Together Saturday, a day designed to prioritise the experience and enjoyment of rugby for our pupils, above winning and losing.
Both Seaford and Canford have similar values, and each school is proud to help their students discover themselves and their passions. The idea behind the day was to focus it on enjoyment, right through the age-groups, and foster good relationships between players, parents, and staff from all sides and all teams. Before the game, Seaford’s rugby coach, Kevin Rich, said: “The idea behind this was to engage parents a little more on match days and attempt to help them to learn about how their touchline behaviour impacts the sporting experiences of pupils.
“Both Canford and Seaford are trying to create the best possible environments for young people to thrive in their sporting lives. With regards to rugby, the very physical nature of the game can sometimes draw out the worst in those watching and we feel that certain behaviours such as yelling instructions, jeering and berating the ref should have no place at school matches.
“By promoting an openness and convivial atmosphere in which it is normal for both sets of parents to connect and simply enjoy the game for it’s own sake we feel that this will minimise these negative tendencies. We put together a programme that highlighted some of these thoughts and also emphasized the importance that both schools attach to using sport as a vehicle to develop character and resilience.”
Below are some of the tips that were included in the programme, which you can also download below.
HOW WAS THE GAME ?
The game is so much more than who won and lost. Of course winning feels nice but let’s celebrate the character,
temperament, endeavour, bravery and teamwork. It’s not professional sport. The pupils are learning to get better at
something they love doing. Try using ‘how was the game’ instead of analysing why a team may have won or lost.
SHARE THE SIDELINE
One of the best parts of watching a Premiership match live is to share in the experience with supporters from other
teams. It is a pleasure to connect and watch sport to appreciate skill and strategy from both teams. To simply enjoy
the game without wondering what the score is. School sport should not get caught up in creating divides. Sharing the
sideline puts the game first.
Of course we want the best for our children. But ‘best’ is perhaps not always having to be ‘THE STRONGEST’. We want
pupils to build character and play with spirit in their sporting lives. One of the greatest gifts that we (as adults) can give
them is to model courage, integrity and respect; especially in defeat. How does our touchline behaviour shape character and enhance the enjoyment for the players during the game?
In the matchday programme, both Seaford and Canford students shared what they love about rugby, which you can read below.
“Rugby has allowed me to meet so many different people, if I look at my close group of friends I have at the moment I have played rugby with them. The sport is so great because in the game you do everything to win but then when the final whistle goes we have the respect to shake hands and catch up. Some of my closest friends have been people I have played against and got to know after the match. The physical demand of the sport is another reason I love rugby. When playing rugby you put everything on the line and you know you have done this when you feel the aches and pains the next morning. Finally rugby has given me many memories and experiences which will stay with me for a long time.”
“I love playing rugby at Seaford College because not only is it brilliant fun, but also it is so inclusive. Everybody can play for a team no matter what their ability. Personally, what I love mainly about rugby is that there is so much competition for places in the team. So, I must improve myself every week to make sure I stay in the A team. Also, there is no prejudice between teams, the A team and B team are considered equals and nobody is looked down upon.”
“The reason I like rugby so much and why I have carried it on for so many years is because in no other sport do I get the sense of a brotherhood as strongly as I do in our current team in rugby, and a desire to put our bodies on the line for each other for that win. In no other sport do I think you will get a group of players so passionately playing for each other and that is why I love rugby, and this year especially.”
“I love rugby because it gives you an opportunity to express yourself in a way through hard work and skills, whilst it also helps me to stay fit and look at the nutrition side of sport which I can take into everyday life. But the main thing is
it helps to block out everything else that is happening in my life meaning I don’t have to worry about anything whilst I’m playing rugby and knowing I am enjoying myself.”
“At the end of the home games played at Seaford, visiting Canford parents awarded a ‘Spirit of Rugby’ plaque to a Seaford player that best reflected the values of each school,” added Kevin Rich. “The Seaford parents selected a Canford player too. This was a gesture to remind parents that both teams are fighting for the same cause and to try and enjoy the game a little more neutrally – not an easy task when parents are watching their own children but something we think is worth is working towards.”