Rugby has long been a central feature of life at Blundell’s, and a sport in which we have seen significant success. The school’s first competitive fixture was played over 150 years ago, and in the intervening years both current and former pupils have played at the very highest level, including internationally and for the British and Irish Lions. This level of success continues to the present day, and our top teams regularly see significant regional and national success.
We are very proud of this rugby tradition, and of the successes we have seen. However, the Blundell’s rugby ethos is more than simply this. In particular, we pride ourselves on the opportunity and enjoyment that all our pupils will have from playing. We put out a large number of teams for a school our size, and enjoy a very competitive and high-quality fixture list. Girls Rugby is proving more and more popular, and we are continually expanding our girls’ rugby sevens programme, and run holiday training camps to further encourage participation in the sport for girls. In addition, non-contact touch rugby is also proving very popular among the younger age-groups in particular, and further enables us to provide a form of sport to match all levels, abilities and interests.
As a school, we believe fundamentally in providing an environment that is both inspirational and aspirational, which allows individual pupils to discover their own rugby pathway. To facilitate this, Blundell’s rugby concentrates on player development that is pupil centred, which encourages the pupils to enjoy the game and hopefully become life-long enthusiasts at whatever level they engage. We incorporate the 5 core values identified by the RFU into our rugby programme: enjoyment; teamwork; respect; discipline; and sportsmanship.
One element of the Blundell’s rugby programme that helps to provide a pupil centred focus is the fact that the majority of coaching is done by schoolteachers who have a passion for the game and an enthusiasm to play their part in the overall development of the pupils they coach. They do not focus exclusively on the short-term success of our winning performances in competitive matches, but on the progression of players along a much longer time trajectory. The teaching staff’s skill and care are supplemented by professional coaches, who work both with the pupils directly and provide coaching development sessions for the other staff members. In addition, our elite players receive additional support and coaching through our connections with Exeter Chiefs and Taunton Titans.
Blundell’s teams have enjoyed a good deal of success in recent years, winning the International Rosslyn Park Sevens U18s competition and reaching the final of the National Schools Champions Trophy competition in the recent years. Yet we recognise that one of our greatest success stories is the high level of participation that we have amongst our pupils at school, and this is also reflected in the number of pupils who continue playing rugby after leaving school. For many this is for universities and clubs, but it also includes those who have gone onto have professional careers; Jack Maunder (Exeter and England), Matt Kvesic (Exeter, Gloucester, Worcester and England) and Nicola Coffin (Richmond and England) are some recent examples.