Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and George Ford praised by Harpenden headmaster for Six Nations success
PUBLISHED: 19:30 24 March 2016
Harpenden's star rugby trio, Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and George Ford, are proving worthy role models for youngsters keen to emulate their success in sports.
But the head of the school they all once attended has called upon the government to show more support - particularly financially - for extra-curricular sports, including rugby, to ensure others can follow in their impressive footsteps.
There were celebrations at St George’s School, Sun Lane, after England scored a 31-21 victory over France to win the Six Nations grand slam last Saturday (19).
Maro, Owen and George are all former pupils who - before playing for England - also shone when playing rugby at the school.
However headmaster Raymond McGovern has voiced concerns about the effort needed to provide extra-curricular sports for students as he does not want to see a decline in the programme offered.
He explained: “For us to be able to continue to provide and develop accessible lessons for every student is becoming a real challenge.
“We are now consulting with parents about contributions to sport at every level. Government funding cuts are really draining every aspect of schooling.”
Because of severe constraints on school budgets nationwide, parents of boys and girls who play extra-curricular sport at St George’s are being consulted on how best to sustain the current level of activities offered when academy funding is being reduced.
It is keen to bring in more coaching staff to help support its PE teachers and in its consultation, which finishes on April 30, it has asked whether parents would back the introduction of a voluntary contribution.
Raymond said that the success of Maro, Owen and George – the latter of whom only attended St George’s for a term – had had an impact on students.
He added: “Young people see positive role models like them doing exceptionally well and it inspires them; it gives them a sense of confidence.”
Maro, who boarded at the school, has been a praised across the rugby world as a star, with the rookie England lock featuring in a “My Life in Pictures” spread in The Times ahead of the team’s Grand Slam win.
Raymond hailed Maro for being selected to play rugby for England as part of the Six Nations squad, saying: “This is such a personal achievement for one of the most pleasant and humble young men it has ever been my pleasure to meet.”
He said that despite some newspaper reports, Maro “doesn’t come from a super rich family”.
Maro visited St George’s last term for a dinner where he gave a speech and mixed with pupils. Raymond said: “He was ever so nice, and very approachable.”
He also praised Owen’s ability to “put the ball over the posts time after time. He practices relentlessly.”
Raymond said that while the school could not claim it was responsible for the men’s prowess in rugby, “I think we did contribute by being part of the path to their success. But it is completely down to them, and we are incredibly proud of their achievements.”