Wensum Trust and North Walsham RFC to extend partnership agreement

From left, North Walsham chair Keith Jarvis, Wensum Trust chair John Smith, Walsham president Dave H

From left, North Walsham chair Keith Jarvis, Wensum Trust chair John Smith, Walsham president Dave Horne, Trust business development manager Malcolm Johnston and Walsham director of rugby, Al Hepburn. Picture: Richard Polley - Credit: Archant

North Walsham Rugby Club and the Wensum Trust have announced the extension of their partnership until 2021.

Under the agreement, which began in 2016, the Trust part-funds the club's head of rugby, who then works in the Trust's schools with children of all ages and both sexes for around half the week.

These arrangements will continue with James Brooks' successor, with the current North Walsham head of rugby having decided to leave this summer for personal reasons.

The seeds for the partnership originally came from parallel discussions within the club about the best way to organise coaching internally and how to develop sustainable links with schools.

'This partnership brings those two issues together,' said chair Keith Jarvis. 'Clearly, it enables us to employ a high quality head of rugby to develop our players – James spent 10 years in the Premiership and was an England Sevens player – but the strategic benefits go way beyond that.

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'It spreads rugby to parts of Norfolk we wouldn't otherwise reach and adds synergy to our programme of work with schools more local to us that we launched last summer.'

That has seen the establishment of links with Aylsham, Broadland, Cromer, Flegg, North Walsham and Stalham high schools. There are plans to embed those more deeply and extend into primary schools, although funding is an issue.

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The not-for-profit Wensum Trust, which manages 10 state schools in Acle, Hellesdon and Wells, sees rugby as central to its Health and Well Being strategy designed to enable all children to maximise their potential inside and outside the classroom.

'Sport in general and rugby in particular helps build confidence and resilience which benefits children in all parts of their lives – in their studies, in the workplace, in their personal relationships,' explained John Smith, the Trust's chair. 'We particularly like rugby's values such as respect, fair play, discipline and teamwork, all of which we want to imbue into our students. Those values are well demonstrated at North Walsham, a well run and welcoming community club which we are delighted to be closely associated with.'

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