A new Rugby Academy is coming to the Langley School District, and it’s the first of its kind in the Fraser Valley.
The academy will begin operating at D.W. Poppy Secondary next school year and will be led by long-time teacher and rugby coach Stuart Crowley.
The Rugby Academy will combine provincial curriculum and rugby-centred curriculum, and will include a focus on athletics, health, safety, and well-being, he said.
The academy will also be structured around the rugby program’s values of PRIDE: passion, respect, integrity, discipline, and effort.
Students will experience personalized learning, Crowley explained, while still being expected to meet high standards of behaviour, and scholastic discipline. This program is offered to students in Grades 10, 11, and 12.
“It allows kids who are passionate about rugby and who want to experience a daily training environment to take part in that, similar to what you would see at a university level,” Crowley said.
After launching earlier this spring with an information session for interested students and families, 29 of 30 spots in the program are now filled.
“It’s the culmination of a lot of time and hard work put into something I’m really passionate about, so I’m ecstatic that this has come to fruition,” Crowley said of how it feels to have launched the academy.
“I’ve had a lot of people express their appreciation that something like this finally exists. Quite a few families of younger students have reached out to ask questions and to tell me that they’re keen on their kids being involved when the time comes. We’re hearing a lot of positive anticipation from everyone involved.”
In addition to on-field work – including training and in the spring, games against other schools – academy participants will learn about nutrition, rugby strategy, the place of the sport on the international stage and also within Canada.
Students will also earn various certifications along the way, that will allow them to pursue coaching opportunities down the road if they so choose.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for the students in the program, and I’m grateful that I get the chance to come to work each day and teach students in an area that both they and I are really engaged in,” Crowley said.
Crowley is a veteran, well-respected rugby coach in Langley and throughout the Fraser Valley. Crowley had led D.W. Poppy teams to various Eastern Fraser Valley finals, and last spring, Poppy’s senior girls team took home a provincial championship under his leadership.
In addition to helming the rugby program at D.W. Poppy, Crowley is also an assistant rugby coach at Trinity Western University and has also coached provincial teams with BC Rugby.
“I think (a rugby academy) is something that’s time has come. It’s an opportunity that I think is needed in the Fraser Valley and in Langley, in particular.”
Crowley said helping young students to grow – not just as players but as people – has always been a major part of his coaching philosophy.
“Rugby is a sport that is unique in the values that is espouses, and I think amongst sports that are accessible to youth, it’s one that teaches some really, really strong lessons,” he said.
“We really want to make sure that the kids who come out of this program aren’t just good rugby players, but they’re good people. For me, that’s what rugby’s all about.”
The district’s academy will be just the fourth secondary school rugby academy in B.C., and the first in the Fraser Valley.
Langley School District has a number of sports-focused academies, including hockey, baseball, softball, equestrian, and soccer.
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