THE past couple of months has seen plenty of activity at St Anne’s Special School in Ennis. As part of an Xcessible Youth Sport Initiative, the school has teamed up with Ennis Rugby Club to introduce tag rugby to some of their students.
The initiative was held under the auspices of Munster Rugby and culminated with students and staff heading to Thomond Park to take on other schools who have also taken part in the programme throughout Munster.
Donal McMahon was charged with running the programme on behalf of the local rugby club and had nothing but praise for all involved.
“I was amazed at the enthusiasm and the skills which the students showed during the initiative. They were so quick to pick up the basic techniques and, obviously, enjoyed the programme. We had lots of fun and it was a hugely enjoyable project to be associated with.
“Ennis Rugby Club has always been pro-active in teaming up with charities and projects locally, where we feel we can add some value to our town. One of the aims of the initiative is to facilitate links between national governing bodies of sport, Local Sports Partnerships, schools and disability organisations, in order to facilitate easy access and choice for children with disabilities in physical activity and sport. We feel that we have an obligation to give a little bit back to the community,” he added.
Staff at St Anne’s were delighted with the programme and said it helped to create huge self-esteem for the students who took part. Principal Caroline Lodge was glowing in her praise of the initiative.
“The students involved were so excited by the project. We try to ensure that the children at St Anne’s have the same opportunities as other children in the community and this initiative certainly helped in that regard. Munster Rugby donated tags, cones and rugby balls and we will use those to ensure even more children get the opportunity to participate in tag rugby in the future.
“Ennis Rugby were generous with their time and Donie made sure that all the participants enjoyed themselves. The trip to Thomond Park was a highlight for all the kids and they were extremely happy to be in the same environment as their rugby heroes,” she continued.
In all, 16 students completed the course and they were rewarded with sports bags and beanies provided by Ennis Rugby Club. The bags were sponsored by TTM Healthcare. With their international headquarters located in the town, TTM Healthcare has an ongoing sponsorship arrangement with Ennis Rugby.
After eight weeks of training, students and staff arrived at Thomond Park for a day of activity. They played games against five other schools before being given a guided tour of the museum at the stadium, which celebrates the history of Munster Rugby. Various officials and representatives from Munster Rugby were on hand to ensure the day was a huge success.
The students then had an opportunity to watch the Munster team train at Thomond and they were able to interact with their heroes at the end of the session.