This Saturday Seaford College and Canford met for their block fixture, which had been redubbed “Stand together Satuday”.
Essentially the idea was designed to focus the day on enjoyment through the age-groups, fostering good relationships between players, parents, and staff from all sides and all teams, and focusing on process rather than outcome.
Speaking to Seaford College to try to further understand the concept and it’s aims, Assistant Head of Rugby, Kevin Rich explained the problem further.
“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 emphasised the importance that both schools attach to using sport as a vehicle to develop character and resilience.”
“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. 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.”
“At the end of the day school sport should foster and promote values that can be sustained for life before anything else. The more people who can be encouraged to ‘speak this language’ and challenge hostile touchline behaviour the healthier the experience will be for pupils, who are playing for many other reasons than just winning. Some of these were also described in the programme.”
As it turned out it could barely have worked out better, even the on field action matched it, with the final score in the 1st XV game ending as a 5-5 draw, a truly fitting way for a memorable day to end.