, Staindrop’s Ben Lowerson makes a break
, Staindrop’s Ben Lowerson makes a break

A TWO-year programme to encourage more of the dale’s youngsters to play rugby – and provide the next generation of players for Barney RUFC – has got off to a good start.
Rugby development officer Andy Reynolds is working with the club to supplement existing efforts by teachers at Teesdale School and Staindrop Academy to promote the sport.
This has resulted in inter-school challenge matches being staged on Barney’s pitches at the Demesnes, the latest of which saw the respective year eight teams lock horns in a 12-a-side encounter played in cold and testing conditions.
Mr Reynolds is working with Barney RUFC as part of his role as a development officer at the Newcastle Rugby Foundation – run by the city’s Premiership team the Falcons.
He said: “It’s been going really well with the schools. I've been working with years seven and eight at Teesdale School, boys and girls, and average class sizes have been 25-30.
“We have also started an after-school club on Wednesdays.”
He added: “At Staindrop, due to their schedule, it is just the year seven boys at the moment on a bi-weekly basis, and getting about 30 involved.
“Next term, I hope to start working with the year eights at Staindrop.
“I am really pleased with how it’s going so far. The game between the year sevens was the first fixture the schools have played for five or six years and from that, we have already seen some year sevens from Teesdale School join the club.
“For the short space of time we have been doing it, it has been really positive.”
Mr Reynolds said the plan was to involve more girls in rugby at Staindrop before staging games between the year seven and eight girls at the two schools.
Eventually, he hopes to go into the primary schools and bring the sport to youngsters in years five and six.
Barnard Castle RUFC received funding for the development work from the Falcons, Teesdale Action Partnership (TAP) and the club’s own sponsors and supporters.