Thornlie thriving through Rugby League influence

In the last twelve months, the Specialist Schools program has continued to jump ahead in leaps and bounds, spearheaded by WA Rugby League development officer Edward Easter.

The program, which incorporates six specialist schools around the metropolitan area, aims to engage children who perhaps haven’t been exposed to Rugby League and get them playing the greatest game of all

The program also places an emphasis on drawing children to schools that play the game to increased the development of their skills as well as providing a pathway to competitive football.

Physical Education teacher Rod Chapman, has ran the Thornlie High School Rugby program in recent years and has overseen it’s evolution into a Rugby League school in it’s own right.

“What I’ve noticed has happened is through these workshops it’s generated a lot of interest in league from our guys… a lot were interested in union to start with and a lot of them have now started playing rugby league with the clubs,” Mr Chapman.

“We’ve got some at the bulldogs, we’ve got some at South Perth, so a lot of them actually switch codes over the last couple of years.”

“A significant amount since Ed and Wayde have been coming out.”

Mr Chapman also acknowledged the contribution of links with local clubs South Perth and Kalamunda, who have a hand in the specialist schools program.

“It’s just seemed to have clicked with our guys, very definitely,” he said.

“They’ve been very, very supportive towards us and this year they’ve came in and donated training shirts to our scholarship boys… I mean they’ve become very popular,” he said.

“As a club, they’ve been very supportive of us, and as a club we’re building a bit of repore with them now.”

“We act as a kidsport referral agency for them so we can help them, get the kids to pay their fees down at South Perth as a school, so it’s a good relationship.” 

The signs have been good at Thornlie through these partnerships and Mr Chapman acknowledges the benefits that the new scholars to the game of Rugby League have reaped. 

“Well a lot of things, the discipline, the team work, camaraderie amongst them, we’ve had new boys that have come in and they’ve just, as soon as they’ve came into the league program, they’ve sort of immediately got the other boys looking after them.”

But it’s not just the interpersonal factors that are improving in leaps and bounds as the development officers at WA Rugby League have targeted key skill areas to focus on.

“In terms of the skills, there’s been a significant improvement to the skill levels of all our boys right through from year eight through to year 12 which you can directly relate to the workshops that Ed and Wayde have been running for the period of time,” Mr Chapman said.

“Just some of the basic techniques and skills they didn’t possess earlier, it’s through these guys that that’s happening.” 

For more information on the specialist schools program, contact Edward Easter on (08) 9228 9275 or on eeaster@nrl.com.au