Thoughts of the Gamesmaster
The school commits significant resources to support and encourage participation in school sport. We are anxious that each student have a positive experience and feels valued in his own right, whether he plays the main school game rugby at first team level or third team level, or any other sport in the school. We also ensure that the coaching and care of the students is of the highest quality and we feel supported by parents in our endeavours in this regard.
Our coaching staff, and especially our rugby staff, supported by the PE teachers, are committed to connecting performance with appropriate lifestyle. This is evident and visible in terms of student behaviour. There is a greater awareness of dietary requirements and the importance of hydration and the students have a clear understanding of the effects of alcohol and tobacco abuse on athletic performance.
Anyone with even a passing interest in rugby will have noticed that top rugby players are spectacularly better built than their predecessors of the amateur era. What happens at the top inevitably filters down to clubs and schools as young players try to emulate their heroes. Training methods have changed radically over the last ten years as the principles of sport science are applied to rugby training and to training methods in other sports. In fact training is no longer called training, it is now called conditioning.
Ireland and the Irish provinces have been at the leading edge of developments and conditioning for rugby. The IRFU and its branches, through their Schools Development Officers and some excellent coach training courses, pass this information on down the line to clubs and schools. In regard to these matters, we liaise closely with the IRFU to ensure that we are au fait with developments in these areas.
A good weights facility is an essential prerequisite for conditioning programmes. A well equipped weights gym was created in the new school building some years ago. The benefits of these programmes are available to all students who are actively encouraged to participate.
Of on-going concern to all involved in sport is the glamorisation of what are known as ‘food supplements’, the best known one is creatine. It is openly advertised in health shops and is seen by many young men as a shortcut to achieving desired physical development. Our medical advice is that the long term effects of using these products are not known and may have serious long term affects. The school strongly discourages the use of these products and requests our parents to exercise the greatest vigilance in this regard.
One of the main ways of encouraging and rewarding participation in sport is through touring. We try to ensure that tours are as inclusive as possible and that they are not provided merely for the A teams only. It is a key element of our approach that each student should feel valued and have an opportunity to avail of enriching experiences that derive from touring.
Our South African exchange programme is an integral part of this approach. Initially, and primarily, the exchange was introduced to promote cricket, but was broadened a number of years ago to cater for rugby players. This exchange is entirely dependent on the generosity of our own parents in CUS in hosting students from St Albans College, Pretoria and Kearsney College, Durban. This generosity is valued and appreciated by the school.
We believe that participation in sport for students who are able to do so is an important part of a balanced life. There should be an appropriate balance between study, sport and social life. We strongly encourage this and request the support of our parents. Not everybody can be a star, but everybody can benefit from participation.
I must make reference to the progress made by a past pupil and former CUS senior cricket captain, Eoin Morgan. Eoin began the first Irish person in 100 years to play test cricket for England. He is the first Irish man to play cricket for England at Lords, the home of cricket. Test cricket is the highest form of the game of cricket and we are very pleased that the role played by the school in Eoin’s development has been acknowledged privately and publicly. We wish Eoin every success in the future and that he continues to go from strength to strength.