Caroline Burnell: Gwaunmeisgyn teacher discusses benefits of World Cup Tag Rugby Festival

Tag Rugby Festival can benefit pupils and students according to primary school teacher

THE World Cup Tag Rugby Festival – aimed at pupils from Years 4, 5 and 6 – is something that is beneficial for pupils and university students, a local school teacher has said.

Caroline Burnell is a Key Stage 2 teacher at Gwaunmeisgyn Primary School. The school was one of the first to establish a link with the Pontypridd Valleys Rugby Initiative.

The Beddau school were one of 14 who attended the Festival. BSc Rugby Coaching and Performance students at the University of South Wales planned the festival themselves.

“Gwaunmeisgyn are really lucky in the sense that we’ve been one of the first schools to be involved in the initiative programme,” said Burnell.

“We’ve had students coming in to our schools on a weekly basis to give pupils the opportunity to rugby.”

The games took place in a round robin format, with each school representing a different nation.

Burnell discussed how the Festival appealed to children of all backgrounds. She noted how she has been encouraged the buy-in from her pupils.

“The children that we’ve brought are the full range of pupils within the school, including those with additional learning needs, and they have all fully participated.

“We’re talking about children who wouldn’t always necessarily think ‘I’m going to go and have a game of rugby at my local club’.”

Students making the difference

So, the pupils have enjoyed the sessions so far, but what impact have the students had?

Well, according to Burnell, it’s a considerable one.

“For the last three weeks, we’ve been taking part in skills sessions with the students on Dean’s (Parsons) course, who I have to say have been absolutely fantastic.

“We’ve had some reluctant children, but the students have been amazing with them.

“There hasn’t been one pupil who hasn’t been fully engaged.”

Burnell, who is the wife of Pontypridd RFC Head Coach Justin Burnell, is clear on the benefits for the children as well as the students.

“It’s teaching them skills which they can use across the curriculum. They’re being taught about participation, teamwork and leadership skills. There’ll always be natural leaders coming out.

“It’s not only benefitting our children hugely, it’s also benefitting the students who Dean is mentoring. They’re getting vocational skills out of it.”