Here's Jo delivering the programme to St John's RC Primary
SALE Sharks have a strong reputation for using rugby to educate youngsters and are set to play a crucial role in Premiership Rugby's innovative new national programme On The Front Foot.
On The Front Foot uses rugby, and its core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship to instil character and resilience in children through classroom and outdoor activity.
The scheme, which will be delivered in schools by all 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs, in addition to London Welsh and Bristol Rugby, is being piloted this week before being fully rolled out nationwide in September.
Sale Sharks community coach Jo Edwards, is helping deliver the pilot at St. John's R.C. Primary School in Manchester on Monday, believes the programme will be a big success.
"The pilot scheme has kicked off really well. We were in the classroom, did an introduction about who Sale Sharks and talked about the core values of rugby," said Edwards.
"The first session all about enjoyment and the children loved trying something different. They are learning without realising.
"Come September, we'll be going into primary and secondary schools for a six-week programme working with children aged 9-16."
On The Front Foot will reach more than 17,000 pupils and is receiving funding through the Department for Education.
Former England flanker Hendre Fourie, who now works for Sale Sharks' community department and also attended the pilot at St John's, believes the values being instilled can only help the youngsters.
"You can make a huge difference in a kid's life if you start them off on the right path," explained Fourie.
"From my personal experience through playing rugby and having the core values. It works for me now even in retirement.
"Whenever I had an injury and had to get back from that - all that heart makes you stronger and helps you bounce back from the setbacks."
In addition to going into schools, the scheme will also provide character education as part of an intensive 33-week training course for almost 500 young people aged 16-18 who are not in education, employment or training.
Premiership Rugby's community director Wayne Morris is confident the programme will fill a void.
"I think it's fundamental to instil these values in youngsters. I think what we see now is young people coming out of schools with good academic qualifications," said Morris.
"But what we're starting to understand is that for them to really succeed in life, that they need more than that - they need the character traits to prepare them for further education, work and society as a whole.
"We think that rugby has got some very strong core values that we can take from the game and transfer that learning into the classroom and into practical activity for these young people."
The project, which will receive more than £500,000 is one of 14 that will receive funding through the Department for Education's £3.5 million character grants scheme. The grants are designed to expand initiatives that successfully improve the character of young people.
And after seeing how popular the programme was first-hand, Hannah Vecchione, Director of PE and Sport at St John's, is adamant it will go down a storm.
"It was great. The children absolutely loved it and had a really good time - it was very exciting to meet everyone and talk to them about the programme," said Vecchione.
"The kids were completely engaged and they understood that the focus was on the values - using rugby to develop that focus.
"Rugby is a really good sport to be able to teach that character education through because it's built on the teamwork and respect values."
To find out more about the programme, and how you can get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring the Sharks Community Trust Offices on 0161 667 7518.