Royal Grammar School


About to Kick Off

About to Kick Off

Well, we've had all the pizzazz and glitter of the build-up. Tonight it starts in earnest.

I mean the Rugby World Cup, of course. The RFU is determined that this should be the biggest and best World Cup ever: I heard that from Ian Ritchie, RFU Chief Executive, in person on Monday when he met a number of us HMC heads to talk about rugby in schools. And yesterday our Director of Sport, Mrs Ponton, heroically travelled to Gloucester and back for the official welcoming ceremony for Scotland (no, I don’t understand why there, either!).

It will probably be ten days before we actually see the Scotland squad in school: then their presence will be intensive for 2 weeks. We’re looking forward to it. Of course, there’s all the excitement of international rugby: the whole of Newcastle will be buzzing with that (they tell me the event will bring some £45 million into the city). And I’m certain our students will get caught up in all of that.

There will be inconvenience, though: so why bother? We’re already very busy. At the RGS we always hit the ground running, and students and teachers alike are working very hard, hurtling into new syllabuses and courses, subjects and activities (yes, that amazingly rich extra-curricular life is well underway too). So you might argue that we could do without distractions.

But it is worth the disruption and the extra trouble for two reasons, both of them inextricably connected with our constant thirst for excellence.

First, professional sport is all about seeking and achieving excellence. The Scotland team, admittedly not the bookies’ favourite to win the World Cup, will be at the peak of their training, preparation and fitness. The Scottish RFU has assembled the best squad and will be hoping to field the best teams that it possibly can. Everything about its organisation, as well as the players’ personal and collective preparation, is geared to excellence. That furnishes a great example for us all in the school – for us members of staff as well as for the boys and girls who witness it. A relentless focus on doing and being the best we can be is very much a feature of RGS life: our guests will be living and demonstrating that ethos.

Second (and contributing to the first), we very much hope that our boys and girls will get a chance to see up close just how hard those professional sportsmen work. Here at the RGS we know we work with very bright and talented young people: but that’s not enough! The message we have to put across, day in and day out, is that innate talent is only the starting point: it is hard work and commitment that turn gifts into success. And that other great personal quality, resilience, is called for when things get tough.

We shall surely see the Scottish squad embody all of the above. They will have some tough games: they will need reserves of determination if they are to beat the other teams in their group, and resilience to bounce back from defeat. And, during their brief stay with us, we shall undoubtedly see them putting in an extraordinary work-rate in their quest to be the best they can be.

An example for us all: a mirror to hold up to ourselves, perhaps. Who wouldn't want that?

I hope we’ll have some fun too. It should be a great few weeks.

Bernard Trafford