Students at Melksham Oak have been treated to special training sessions from former England and Bath rugby legend, Lewis Moody, as part of a new programme launched this year at the school.
The post-16 rugby academy programme is a full-time course for sixth form students which incorporates high-level rugby training alongside academic studies. Former England flanker Lewis Moody retired as a professional rugby player due to injury in 2012 and after two years out of the public eye, came back with the idea to set up Mad Dog Sport Rugby Academy Programme.
Lewis said, “When I retired from rugby, one of the things to look at was how schools could use rugby as a tool to help develop young people’s characters, help them get their academic qualifications, help them get more sport qualifications, and help them stay in education.
“The Mad Dog Rugby Academy Programme is not about elite sport or about pushing kids into professional sport, it’s about character development and encouraging good values and giving players confidence on and off the pitch which will ultimately help them later on in life, whether or not they are playing sport.
“It’s also about working with the community so we give the kids coaching, refereeing and nutrition qualifications that they can deliver back to their communities, and back to their local sports clubs.
“Most importantly, it’s about the kids playing rugby alongside their academic studies and them achieving academic success with rugby as a tool to help them. It’s key that they get an education so Alex Burns, the head coach at the school, works with the head of sixth from and tutors to make sure all the kids are hitting all the standards academically. If they’ve missed a deadline, then they miss training. The programme has to be entirely integrated and work with the school and the school’s values.
“Melksham Oak has been incredible in working with us to do the best for the kids. It’s been an incredible first year, and we’re constantly learning, but we couldn’t have chosen a better school to start with.
“The relationship has been great, the headteacher and deputy headteacher have both been incredibly open-minded. They were prepared to try something new and saw the value of rugby and how it could impact positively on the school.”
Charlie Green, a student on the programme said, “I came from another school to join the programme because my school didn’t offer a lot for those interested in sport.
“It’s great working with Lewis and Alex, they know so much and we all have learnt a lot from them.
“I know I will leave school a lot more confident and with better grades than I would have done if I hadn’t joined the programme. I would like to be a personal trainer, so learning about all aspects of sport will definitely help achieve this.”
Lewis added, “The programme is a tool to keep kids in education and so they leave school with better opportunities and with sporting qualifications that they can align to jobs or use in the community and give back to their clubs.
“It’s about having a professional mindset and about education and the kids using rugby as the vehicle to further their education so they stay in sixth form and get their A-levels.”