School Rugby, just a step away from the Pro’s

Enjoy school rugby while you have the chance, that’s my advice. You’re never going to get coaching like this, facilities like this or indeed organisation like this unless you go on to play professional rugby.

I was invited to Uppingham School this week to watch them train and to tour their new sports complex, and I have to say, I was seriously impressed.

I played in front of that famous old thatched pavilion on many an occasion, and it was always a special place to play, with a natural tunnel to run through and that big covered section for supporters. It made you feel very special. So I was sceptical when I heard about the big changes.

The result though is a magnificent bowl shaped surround to this beautifully manicured playing surface, with the old pavilion recreated, retaining the tunnel and spectator area.

In addition they now have a further area for supporters as the sports hall faces the pitch too, with indoor and outdoor spectator areas. It is now one of the great 1st XV pitches in the country, to rival Millfield’s Gareth Edwards pitch, and Oundle’s hostile ground.

This is the thing though, these are school pitches, you feel like it is just the start of your rugby career, but for many this is the high point, and you should take the time to appreciate that. Whether you are from Uppingham, Millifeld, Bromsgrove or Wellington, you will not play on pitches and surroundings like this again.

The coaching is also of an incredibly high standard, Paul Westgate at Uppingham is also the England Students coach, and there are school coaches across the country in similar positions. That level of coaching is not available at university or even club rugby.

So I urge you all; enjoy your time playing school rugby, it is a special, special environment. You will never be closer to playing professional rugby than you are at school.

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