Sale Sharks and former England winger Mark Cueto tackled a different kind of challenge at the City of Salford Stadium today as he joined up with a group of eight and nine year olds to take part in a rugby-themed maths lesson.
Ahead of Saturday's crunch tie against Toulon, Cueto and club teammates, Sharks' skipper Dave Seymour and Vice-captain Sam Tuitupou, took time out to join more than 60 young rugby fans from Manchester and the North West to celebrate this year's launch of Tackling Numbers - a numeracy programme being taught to schoolchildren all over the country.
More than 25,000 children across 840 schools in England will have benefitted from the programme by the end of this academic year, and Cueto, capped 55 times for England, believes that the programme has inspired young children to take up the sport and helped improve their basic mathematics skills.
He said: "It's great to see the launch of the third-year of Tackling Numbers here at Sale Sharks. Programmes like this are a great way to make numeracy exciting and encourage youngsters to get into sports like rugby.
"I've been able to see first-hand how interested and engaged the kids have been during these sessions and the feedback we get from them, their parents and the teachers is always really positive. Tackling Numbers is a great example of how sport and maths add up to create lessons that are not only good fun, but also help children develop numeracy skills."
The five-week programme, which includes sessions on scoring and creating league tables, has already been found to have made a significant impact to the lives of the children who have taken part.
A study at the end of year two found that over 75 percent of teachers involved said Tackling Numbers had improved and strengthened pupils' attitudes towards maths and numeracy.
The launch event at the City of Salford Stadium marks the third year of the award-winning programme and means around 8,000 Year 4 pupils in 280 schools across England can expect to see Tackling Numbers in their school.
Ian O'Doherty, CEO of MBNA, said: "We have been delighted with the success of the Tackling Numbers programme and with the positive feedback it has received.
"Creative social and community programmes working alongside the power of sport can generate results that make a difference and give children experiences they'll remember for a lifetime."
Wayne Morris, Community and Corporate Social Responsibility Director at Premiership Rugby, said: "Rugby has a great ability to engage with children and this can be used to transcend into the classroom.
"The Tackling Numbers Programme in partnership with MBNA utilises the power of rugby to promote the understanding and learning of numeracy in a fun and enjoyable way.
"The classroom sessions are supported by practical PE sessions that unite an active mind with an active body."
MBNA's principal partners Sale Sharks, all of the other Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs and Newcastle Falcons will continue to deliver the Tackling Numbers programme in schools across England throughout 2012/13.