Scotland captain backs new Scottish Rugby- NHS Lothian partnership

The Tackling Health Project at Craigroyston Community High School in the Muirhouse district of the capital is the result of a joint initiative between Scottish Rugby and NHS Lothian.

Scrum-half Blair said:

"Anything that encourages children to become more physically active is to be welcomed. Long-term if it leads to more recruits to rugby then that's a bit of a bonus but, short-term, if it creates the opportunity for children to play sport in a fun environment and encourages them to think they can get something out of sport then that's very much a start in the right direction."

The project is now in its eighth week out of 20 and Kirsty Hewitt, the project development officer, reports an enthusiastic reaction from local children.


"So far there's been a positive response from boys and girls. Our aim is to improve their health and wellbeing and we're using rugby as the vehicle to do that.
"Some children in the area play football but those who don't, really haven't been getting much else," she explained.


With help from Active School Co-ordinators and BATs - the project set up by Broughton, Edinburgh Accies and Trinity Accies rugby clubs to introduce more youngsters in the north of Edinburgh to rugby - children from Craigroyston Community High School and Craigroyston and Pirniehall Primary Schools are learning some fun rugby skills.

"We're exposing the boys and girls to rugby and they're enjoying it.


Long term we'd be keen that they participate in rugby and we'll certainly look to help them if they wish to join a club or wish to start a school team," Hewitt added.


The project will be evaluated by an external team from Glasgow University at its conclusion.

Professor James Barbour, Chief Executive, NHS Lothian, said:

"We are very pleased to be working with Scottish Rugby through this new partnership. By working together, we can promote the positive and long-lasting benefits of playing sport as part of a healthy lifestyle and provide opportunities for young people to benefit from the boost to their self-esteem and confidence sport can provide."

His counterpart at Scottish Rugby, Gordon McKie, is equally upbeat. He said:

"At Scottish Rugby we believe passionately in the benefits that sport can bring to children, their schools and the wider community.
"We are enjoying working in partnership with NHS Lothian to implement, monitor and review a programme of rugby and the positive impact it can have, with a view to exploring similar relationships in other parts of Scotland, which would be good for rugby, and, down the line, good for the health of our nation."