Brad Barritt believes that The RFU’s All Schools programme is beneficial to the North West, and not just in terms of the increased pool of talent emerging from the area.
The Saracens centre attended an All Schools festival on Friday along with Stuart Lancaster and seven other England players, who imparted their wisdom to Manchester school children at Eccles RFU ahead of the 60-3 defeat of Uruguay in their final pool game at Man City’s stadium.
South Africa-born Barritt believes there is a future for the 15-man game in the league-dominated north, and believes its impact goes beyond events on the field.
“School rugby teaches you huge life lessons in terms of teamwork, discipline, honour, integrity; things that you can carry throughout your life,” Barritt told Mancunian Matters.
“It’s not just the enjoyment factor; it’s those crucial life lessons that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.”
Coaching the kicking station at the All Schools event, which has introduced 400 schools to rugby union since its inception in 2012, the 29-year-old was impressed with the talent shown by the pupils present.
“There was actually some brilliant talent,” said Barritt. “You can see the guys and girls are obviously from a football background because they’re all very gifted with their feet.
“It’s fantastic for us players to go back to grassroots levels, as we all recognise that we one day would have come through a similar system.
“It’s hugely inspiring to be amongst so many people that are now being exposed to rugby.”
The programme, backed by World Cup winners Jonny Wilkinson, Jason Leonard and Maggie Alphonsi, has impressed Barritt, who played the first three matches of England’s ill-fated World Cup campaign.
“England rugby is doing everything they can to touch parts of the country that have never been exposed to rugby, so I think it’s a fantastic programme.
“It’s nice to get out there and meet new people, and see people with smiles on their faces and really just enjoying rugby for what it is.”