Wigan Warriors Community foundation have supported local high schools throughout the 2021/22 academic year with curriculum time sessions, after school clubs and regular playing opportunities at a variety of local festivals.
Standish High Year 8 rugby team completed an unbeaten season at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle at the annual Champion Schools event. Having achieved success in both the Wigan Schools Cup in November, defeating St John Fisher 44-10, and then the North West Counties competition in May with an emphatic 54-4 win over Rainford High School, Standish went on to face Ryburn Valley from Halifax at Kingston Park Stadium.
The final itself was an incredibly close match from start to finish. Standish led 3 times in the first half, with tries from Matty Halton, Alfie Silcock and Toby Calderbank-Mannix giving them a 14-8 half-time lead. Ryburn Valley came back at Standish in the second half, and with just 5 minutes left on the clock they trailed 20-14. Matty Halton capped an amazing performance to cross the line and then convert his own try under immense pressure to tie the game 20-20 which resulted in the cup being shared between the schools.
Head of Rugby, Mr Devine said “I’m really proud of all the pupils involved, they have trained hard all year and have a real togetherness as a group, I look forward to seeing how they progress in Year 9 onwards.”
As an association, Wigan and Leigh schools has returned to action post covid with a number of successes with schools competing at Year 7-11 in the Champion Schools, North West counties, North West Counties plate and Wigan schools competitions in the 2021-22 academic year. This has involved 13 schools across the borough with up to 700 boys playing the game.
Alongside the traditional 13 a-side competitions there has been a Year 7 and 8 ‘emerging players’ competition in partnership with Wigan Warriors Community foundation in which 16 schools have participated. This accumulated in 2 schools representing the borough in the National 9’s competition in May at Victoria Park in Warrington. The events have provided the opportunity for around 500 boys to be introduced to the sport, with each event held at a community club this has helped a number of players to transition into the community game.
The girls game goes from strength to strength with competitions at Year 7-11. Organised by Wigan Warriors women’s head coach Kris Ratcliffe of Deanery high school the event has provided opportunity for around 200 girls to participate in the sport with Wigan schools competing against schools from Manchester, Warrington and St Helens.
Association member Andy Duncalf of Hawkley Hall High commented: “We are proud of the success and development of Rugby League in the borough in 21/22. It’s a fantastic achievement for Standish Year 8 team who have proudly represented the borough at the National tournament. As proudly, the amount of girls and boys playing Rugby League in Wigan and Leigh has been superb.
“I’d like to thank Mr Ashton of St Peters, Mr Unsworth of St John Fisher and Mr Ratcliffe of Deanery for their ongoing leadership of the game within the borough. As an association we would also like to thank Wigan Warriors Community trust for their ongoing support as well as the community clubs including Orrell St James who have hosted emerging players, Wigan schools and North West Counties plate finals.”
Danny Fullerton commented: “Wigan Warriors Community Foundation support all local schools within the borough, with the intention to increase participation and playing opportunities through curriculum sessions and after-school clubs. John Whalley, Tom Marsh, and Rachel Thompson have driven the school’s program to a very high standard throughout the year with regular male and female emerging school’s competitions.”
This year has seen us supporting Wigan and Leigh school’s association and the RFL with hosting the northwest finals has evidenced how strong school’s rugby league really is across the town. We look forward to the new academic school year working with all teachers and promoting rugby league in schools.