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help! son developing a fear of playing rugby

(77 Posts)
Labro Thu 10-Jan-13 15:27:59

Hope someone has a suggestion.
Son yr 6 of prep school, started there yr 5, no previous experience of contact rugby, games master assured me that they do gentle introduction and coaching, but in reality he coaches the A team in lessons and leaves the rest to a gap year student. The bullying got ridiculous, boys using the game as an excuse to kick, hit and punch. School dealt with it. This term, he hatwa the rugby season with a passion, yesterday the other little charmers spent the whole lesson making monkey noises as him and 2 friends who also don't really understand what they are supposed to be doing.
How do I raise this with the games master? Hes had new boys crying, being sent home as frozen to the bone and is not coaching at all, so these boys have no opportunity to learn how to play properly and enjoy the strategy, instead they and my son are simply becoming scared of the thinly veiled agression and violence.

LIZS Thu 10-Jan-13 19:02:47

I mean in terms of learning and playing the game itself, but obviously not in those circumstances.

Labro Thu 10-Jan-13 19:08:51


The other bullying has been dealt with properly and ds and the others have been given guidance on the difference between a bit of friendly joshing about and outright bullying, so the next school situation is thankfully looking much brighter. I agree theres a certain amount to be got on with, and have said as much to the teachers, so if together we can sort this bit out ds may even prove to have a 'rugby gene' lol

StillSmilingAfterAllTheseYears Thu 10-Jan-13 19:36:46

That's rubbish - their only answer is sit out? And your fees are how much? I can't understand why you're not more cross tbh. There's no reason to stop tag rugby if the kids are not being properly coached.

What do other parents think?

I think a single sport option for such a long stretch is a very poor offer.

jo164 Thu 10-Jan-13 20:35:02

If it is a fairly small school then only having 1 sport in Games lessons would be fairly common. I teach PE in a Prep where 5 and 6 come together for Games lessons - I take girls and my colleague takes the boys, whether that be for hockey/netball or rugby/football. There simply aren't anymore staff available to teach any alternative activities. We do however do a different activity in PE lessons. We only teach Tag rugby due to the disparity in children's ability/size/enthusiasm by the time they reach 10 yrs old. Those that have played for several years and have attended clubs etc will be quite some way ahead of others in the same group.
Having said that lots of other Prep schools do play contact rugby - but it should only be played under the supervision of a qualified teacher/coach as accidents can happen far more readily in a contact game. In your position I would approach the school on the grounds of H and S asking what qualification the student has to coach contact rugby. I see no reason why the children not in the 'A' team couldn't continue to play Tag - particularly as it would be a far more suitable activity to be supervised by a student. Having said that I wouldn't be happy that my child wasn't getting any input from the qualified member of staff - it is his job to coach/teach all the children within the school - not just the best. If they have too many children for him to teach as one group the school should be employing another qualified coach or teacher for the rest, not an 18 yr old from Australia!

Labro Thu 10-Jan-13 20:57:20

Thanks jo, that is what happens in ds school, they do football September - end of November, Rugby December - half term and then Cricket, then athletics. They normally have the games master and a mix of other subject teachers when they do football, so I'm confused why the more dangerous sport isn't being supervised to the same or more. PE as you say is a different subject and tends to be inside (gym, hockey etc) and is on a seperate day, he isn't the most physical of kids but has managed to navigate his way through adequately on the other sports. He has a very rational fear of being fallen on by a much larger, heavier boy which at the moment the school haven't even thought about let alone addressed so I think its going to have to be a health and safety line I take with this. I had reason to see the games master last season because ds lost his gum shield (as they do) which I asked his advice on as it was the last week of term. They have notices everywhere that say boys will not be allowed to play without a gum shield. This guy told me not to worry as they wouldn't be doing anything other than passing the ball... 20 minutes after my conversation, he pushed ds into a ruck of year 7 boys- believe me he knows exactly how angry I can get! I'm waiting for a response and now have a clearer idea how to phrase my ds needs in this (hes on a very hefty bursary, not that it should make any difference to how they deal with safety but it can be a bit daunting getting it right)

seeker Thu 10-Jan-13 21:13:39

please don't let the bursary thing stop you! They have a duty to keep your son safe and happy- and they aren't.

Chrysanthemum5 Thu 10-Jan-13 21:18:58

I would definitely go with the safety line. Rugby carries a risk, and it's important that children playing it are taught how to play it properly. I don't think the bursary is relevant. I'd ask the HT how they are ensuring safety during the lessons if the main teacher isn't watching, and it's a gap year student supervising.

Personally, I'd insist that they come up with some other sport to play f they can't show that they are capable of ensuring the children are safe when playing rugby.

seeker Thu 10-Jan-13 21:35:49

And the behqviour of the other boys! I can't understand why people are glossing over this bit!

JoanByers Thu 10-Jan-13 21:48:11

It sounds like your son's school is pretty awful, tbh, they haven't helped you with senior school choices, per your previous thread, and now it seems they aren't preventing bullying.

JoanByers Thu 10-Jan-13 21:51:16

And btw I think they should treat your son well, as it seems he is a candidate for the RGS, which will reflect well on the school if he gets in, so they won't want him to leave, the bursary not withstanding.

CaseyShraeger Thu 10-Jan-13 21:56:57

There are two separate issues here (a) the bullying and (b) that he's not actually being taught rugby, just vaguely and inadequately supervised during a lesson billed as "rugby".

The school needs to be tackling both of these.

Amerryscot Thu 10-Jan-13 22:01:06

I'm not convinced that many people commenting here have an understanding of Games in an independent school.

Labro Thu 10-Jan-13 22:02:34

Thanks Joan, its weird navigating a system I don't really understand and the senior school advice thing largely happened because ex husband decided to go out of his way to block their suggestions, which I found out the true extent of after I posted that thread. lol, if he passes is probably the operative word, much celebration if he does.
Think I need to get a bit more proactive, have a tendency to be scared stiff of headmasters due largely to bullying ex and state school ones who were truly dreadful, so got to get over my own baggage.

11112222 Thu 10-Jan-13 22:02:47

Well, I hate watching ds play rugby as I worry about him getting hurt. Even if their school plays (relatively) safely, other schools they play against may be rougher. I hate it.
Sounds a similar set-up to our school, inc. games master, but during games lessons, the A B C/D teams are coached by different members of staff with gap year students helping out. They also buy in ex pro's to coach too.

Agree boys behaviour needed dealing with and monitoring. Re the games master, he sounds just like many harsh games masters.

I understand how you feel re the bursary - ds has one too. It does make you think twice before steaming in. What do other parents think? Maybe you could rally a bit of support and get one of them to complain instead with you (and others) backing them up???

DS finished rugby now and onto football this term thank goodness. Not long till cricket.......

JoanByers Thu 10-Jan-13 22:23:43

BTW is it possible for you to watch him play once or twice?

He should be in the 3rd team or whatever it is, and be playing against other schools regularly I would have thought, you should definitely be able to go along to watch that.

Unfortunately if you are pathetically bad at sport there will be a tendency for teasing, but that shouldn't be accepted by the school and you should complain about it.

CaseyShraeger Thu 10-Jan-13 22:29:30

Thinking ahead a little (and given your presumed general area from what you said on the other thread) you could maybe think about sending him on one of Harlequins' 3-5 day rugby (non-residential) camps in the summer holidays -- they have various dates and locations and IME the coaches there are very good and he'd certainly leave with a better understanding of the game and with some practice of key skills before going into next year's rugby term.

JoanByers Thu 10-Jan-13 22:35:48

jesus christ, he doesn't need to be tortured with more fucking rugby.

poor boy.

Labro Thu 10-Jan-13 22:36:50

He isn't in a team, they have the A's, the B's and then 'everybody else' who don't ever play a match against another school, which basically means anyone who would be C team or nearly B team is being allowed to play against pathetically bad at games ds and equally pathetic friends (whose preferred strategy is 'staying out of the way as much as possible') so the gap at times is very wide, add to this the games master and other staff always supervising matches when the gap is at its widest and there lies the problem as potential thugs then also have plenty of opportunity to be thugs. 18 yr old gap year students don't quite have the same effect on 11 year olds as a games master who also happens to be their head of year. Its beginning to look like ds will be sitting around a lot this half term if we can't find a coaching solution.

Labro Thu 10-Jan-13 22:41:50

I did laugh at that Joan, that was exactly ds words when I suggested joining a rugby club.

CaseyShraeger Thu 10-Jan-13 22:43:06

Labro did say that she thought he might enjoy rugby if someone bothered to teach it to him at the right level, JoanByers, so I thought it would be unlikely to be "torture" for him.

JoanByers Thu 10-Jan-13 22:49:04

I dunno. My son did two years of tennis coaching, he still can't hit a ball over a net.

Some boys are not good at ball games.

grovel Thu 10-Jan-13 22:53:08

This is hard. The teacher sounds crap BTW.

The good thing about rugby is that it accommodates all shapes and sizes.

The bad thing about rugby is that it separates the recklessly brave boys from the more considered (sensible) boys. A big deal at that age.

My DS hated rugby at prep school but was useful in the second 15 because he was big. He was used for those moments when someone was needed to lumber forward near the try line and score. That made him acceptable even when he "declined" the opportunity to dive at another kid's studs.

I am generally pro rugby but it needs better coaching than football.

weblette Thu 10-Jan-13 22:57:02

The RFU would have a fit about this. The rules are so specific in terms of contact rugby, how it's taught and the ages at which certain skills can be used. Playing yrs 6-8 in the same game sounds very suspect.
So approaching this from another angle, maybe have a look at the RFU website for ammunition.

seeker Thu 10-Jan-13 23:08:34

I was about to say that I am sure that different age groups are not supposed to play rugby together- I remember when ds was playing tag rugby at primary school there was a really good year 4 boy who wanted to play but he wasn't allowed to play with the year 6s- and it wasn't a school rule, it was a tournament rule.

I can't bear this talk of being worried about making a fuss because your child has a bursary- please don't let it stop you. He may have to toughen up a bit about games, but the bullying has to stop. And the inadequate supervision has to stop too.

jo164 Thu 10-Jan-13 23:23:21

I don't think anyone is trying to gloss over the bullying issue - however with proper supervision of the class by a qualified member of staff the behaviour may not be allowed to descend to these depths. It is unrealistic to expect an 18 yr old gap student to be able to deal with these sort of issues particularly in a situation where physical contact is being actively encouraged and a diverse age range of pupils are present. I would definitely approach it from an 'inappropriate supervision, calling into question the Health and Safety (physical and emotional) of the pupils' angle - and if there is documentation from the RFU take that with you support your argument! I have taught PE in several schools with gap students and we have never used them to coach children alone - only ever in a supporting role, or with a qualified teacher present.

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