Empowering girls through school rugby

After a difficult 18 month pandemic, we are proud to open up the Mad Dog rugby enrichment programme to girls.

“It’s been a long time coming but I am beyond excited that we are now able to offer the same opportunities to both girls and boys. We have wanted to see the benefits of rugby and wellbeing delivered across the school to all students equally for quite some time, and following such a difficult period, it just felt right to push forward with offering the programme to all students and I am so pleased with how many girls have become involved” Lewis Moody, Chairman.

Following the past year’s interruptions, the yearly impact report showed that 90% of students believed that being part of the Mad Dog sport programme had a positive impact on their self confidence. 80% believed it had a significant impact on their mental health and 95% noted they had seen a significant impact on their physical health. Even whilst the delivery was done virtually, one student commented “It helped during lockdown as it gave us something to focus on and some normality around our social life”.

With the new school year returning to face to face learning, Moody, along with the Mad Dog coaching team, were determined to make an even larger impact on young people within the school and the Academies. From September, the rugby and strength and conditioning sessions were opened up to all students, both male and female, of all rugby ability across the schools. Over 50 girls participated in rugby sessions last term as well as ‘Strong Girls Club’ launching to engage them in the gym – giving them confidence in the weights room and reducing their risk of injury. This engagement from the start of the term is confirmation that it is something girls want to be involved in and testament to the brilliant coaches Mad Dog Sport have in Tom Bowen-Hall, Director of Rugby, UK Coaching ‘Coach of the Year’ and DPP Bristol Bears Lead, Sam Ball, Head Coach and DPP Bath Rugby Lead and Gemma Rowland, Assistant coach, current Wasps and Welsh International Back and Captain in the Army.

Talking about the importance of offering the same experiences to the girls and what rugby has given her, Gemma Rowland, current Welsh International commented “Rugby allowed me to believe in myself – I built confidence and self awareness, I learned how to believe in my strengths and it encouraged me to see possibilities and opportunities around me. But most importantly it gave me a place where I could truly be myself, in a place where I felt I belonged. Without rugby, I would not be who I am today”.

“From September 2022, we will be offering the full programme to all girls who wish to register, along side the boys within the 6th form; this is massive and something we are so excited about. It’s been wonderful to see the soft launch of the initiative up and running and proving a great success. We have entered our first girl’s team into the Rosslyn 7’s this year, giving girls the same opportunity as boys in a sport that is one of the fastest growing in the UK. I can only see offering the programme as ‘all inclusive’ going from strength to strength and look forward to expanding this into more schools” Annie Moody, Managing Director.

Anita Ellis, Headteacher at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy added “The quality of the coaches is exceptional, the calibre of their knowledge, drive and skill demonstrates the aspiration of the Mad Dog Leaders. They are proactive in promoting positive mental health and nutritional values and are always looking for ways to embed their thinking into the wider school. Their desire to make sport equitable chimes with everything we aim to do as a school. I could not be happier to partner with Mad Dog Sport”.

The programmes utilise the power of rugby with it’s standards and values, to encourage and nurture young people and support academic achievement, Lewis Moody adds “As a personal development programme, the coaches’ focus is on the students as individuals, helping to develop them into confident, respectful and empathetic young leaders, who set high standards within the school community. With both girls and boys now committing to our programme, the aspirational pathway they create will have an even greater reach across the school”.

The opportunities Mad Dog Sport provide are beyond the expected and using rugby as the tool, aim to positively impact student’s lives now and in the future. The introduction of girls to the programme is another step towards empowering young people through physical activity and impacting the growth of rugby as a whole.