Wychwood School in Oxford has introduced Rugby Sevens to its pupils for the first time at a festival hosted at Oxford Harlequins RFC.
The independent all-girls school opened the event to public and state schools to encourage young girls to take up the sport and were overwhelmed by the response.
More than 100 girls aged between 10 and 13 took part with guests from Oratory Prep School, Unicorn School, SS Philip & James’ Church of England VA Primary School and St Andrew’s Church of England Primary School, Headington.
More than 50% of participants were from state schools.
The Wychwood girls were treated to an inspirational assembly to start the day from special guests Gemma Rowland, Wales women’s rugby player, captain of the British Army rugby team and Wasps women’s player.
Jane Leonard, former England Rugby women’s player, captain of the British Army rugby team and Guinness World Record holder for crossing the Pacific Ocean in 60 days, also took part.
Oxford Harlequins’ own Pat Metcalfe-Jones, a triple Oxford Blue, head of women’s rugby at Oxford Brookes University and former head of women’s rugby at Oxford University coached and oversaw the day.
The girls learned the basic skills of the game, culminating in an exhibition games and prize giving.
This festival of rugby builds on the school’s commitment to enhance its sporting focus which saw it relaunch rowing in partnership with Hinksey Sculling School as a curriculum sport last year.
Andrea Johnson, headmistress at Wychwood said: “It’s wonderful to see so many girls eager to develop in Rugby Sevens, which I believe provides a positive physical outlet to complement their academic studies.”
Fran Centamore, director of sport at Wychwood, said: “We are determined to keep trailblazing sporting opportunities as grass roots level to empower our students to go as far as they want. It was uplifting to see so many girls from so many schools try out a new sport together and it demonstrates how important sport and teamwork is to children’s physical, academic and mental development.
“We plan to offer Rugby Sevens as a core sport and continue to make it accessible to surrounding state primary schools.”
Simon Tyrrell, director of Wychwood School, said: “We are proud to be one of the first all-girls schools in the country to explore Rugby Sevens.
“This festival is an excellent example of what can be achieved when clubs, private and state schools work together in partnership for the benefit of the community.”
Neil Hooper, chairman of Oxford Harlequins, said: “Congratulations to Wychwood for taking the lead in showcasing Rugby Sevens to so many schools and children in Oxfordshire.”
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