Mr Gerry Davidson, Deputy Rector – Pastoral
This Monday 22 March sees the beginning of the ESOL Rugby programme. Nine Japanese students have arrived and will begin their tuition in English and be involved in training and playing with a variety of teams within the school. This marks the eighth year of the programme and it has seen over seventy players from Japan, South America, Europe and Africa gain valuable experience and expertise in New Zealand. A number of players have returned home and made representative teams and become professional players, with at least one player returning for next year’s World Cup.
The programme offers players not only the chance to learn in New Zealand but also provides St. Bede’s students an opportunity to engage with boys from another culture. The proposed Rugby tour of Japan next year will visit the schools that provide students for the programme and give our boys a chance to live the culture first hand and will reinforce the positives gained from interacting with people from outside of New Zealand. Equally important is the contribution that the players make to the depth and strength of our teams. We wish this year’s intake every success and hope that their stay in New Zealand is an enjoyable one.
Unlike “rugby academies” in other institutions, our programme does not target only elite players. It is open to any players, with our main aim being the development and improvement of each boy. The Rugby ESOL programme has strengthened ties between our College and three schools in Japan over the years: Sapporo Yamanote, Iwami Chisuikan, and Higashi Fukuoka High Schools. Higashi Fukuoka is the current No 1 high school team in Japan, winning their annual competition in January. Both Yamanote and Iwami Chisuikan were also at the tournament.
The boys board at the College throughout the term but in the July holidays they will go to homestays. If you come across these boys as you follow your sons round their games this winter, don’t hesitate to say hello, as a friendly greeting is much appreciated. Like a number of our boarders, these boys don’t have parents on the sideline to see them play, so any encouragement they get from you will lift their spirits. If you have any questions about the programme, please feel free to contact either me, Mr Robert Tappenden or Mr Mark Ealey.