Cooking rabbit and decoding messages were just two of the tasks set at the Exercise Rugby Challenge, where Warrant Officer Ray Miller led a masterclass in Army-led activities for Project Rugby participants.
Exercise Rugby Challenge is an engagement initiative developed by the Army and Premiership Rugby to promote diversity and address under-representation and harnessing rugby as a vehicle to improve attitudes, skills and life prospects.
The exercise combines both rugby training delivered by Premiership Rugby Club coaches interspersed with Army-led activities, ranging from leadership and military awareness to healthy living advice.
Warrant Officer Miller, who works with youth engagement across the Midlands, set the schedule of the day which had guest speakers, stands and activities for the students which focused on different skills.
“We did a series of round robins, a series of stands, that the young people went around,” Miller said.
“Four of them involved units within the West Midlands so the logistics unit did a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ stand where the young people are given raw ingredients such as pigeon, rabbit and salmon.
“They had to prepare a starter, main course and dessert within the 45-minute time period, and they learned about how we cook in the field.
“The Royal Signals had a communication stand where messages were sent across in radios and they had to listen, interpret the message so it was involving communication and listening skills.
“The Royal Engineers did some team building tasks around construction which had team building, communication skills and leadership with a few participants put in charge of that task.
“Lastly, we had a leadership stand where there was a series of different tasks involving planks, ropes, barrels etc. and then they were given problems to solve using the equipment provided.”
Miller, who has been a rugby coach for 11 years, believes the core values between rugby and the British Army intertwine well and that’s why the programme was such a success.
“It went really well, the kids were fully engaged with the military activities and actually a lot of them didn’t know about that side of the military or didn’t know they did those kinds of trades,” Miller added.
“It worked because we have so many shared values, and what we were actually doing was leaning to what the rugby was doing and vice versa.
“The Army core values of courage, discipline, respect, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment, along with rugby’s values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship.
“They’re very similar and we want the same things out of our players and the same things out of our personnel. They’re very good core values to have in life as well, so I think it worked very well having that joint approach.”
For more information on Project Rugby and to find a session near you, visit www.projectrugby.co.uk