Only Mad Dogs allowed...

Mad Dog Signage

No Dogs Allowed. Not surprisingly, it’s a familiar message posted on almost every school gate across the country. So why were we so keen to warmly welcome a ‘Mad’ one onto our premises some two years ago?


The mid-point of this year’s wonderful Six Nations Rugby tournament offers an apposite moment for reflection.


It’s simple.

Lewis Moody 

Inspiration; Encouragement; Improvement. The vision of the ‘Mad Dog’ Rugby Academy programme, named after the playing nickname of its founder and CEO, former England Ruby Captain and icon, Lewis Moody. A programme which uses Rugby as a foundation to support and enhance our young people’s continued growth and development alongside their A Level, BTECs or GCSE pathways within an inclusive Sixth Form academic offer…




A programme fully aligned with our own vision and values as a school.  A programme which has added significant value to our provision right across the school. A programme that we are proud to be a part of in every way.


The programme has three aims.


Firstly, to retain and recruit students into the Sixth Form, using Rugby as a foundation and motivational incentive to continue - or further enhance - academic study.


Secondly, overseen personally by Lewis, and delivered by our dedicated Head and Assistant Coach based at school, to provide a two-year developmental Rugby coaching programme. Developing playing skills skills alongside accredited Community Coaching and  Refereeing Qualifications and an improved understanding of health and nutrition.


Finally, to offer a wider personal and social development programme around resilience, self-confidence and goal-setting to support students’ growth as rounded and responsible young adults. ‘Good people’ as the Mad Dog website puts it.


Crucially, Mad Dog is a holistic development rather than elite performance pathway programme - unlike those academies aligned to Premiership Rugby Clubs. Students of course need a basic physical literacy, but the programme is not about producing the next Wilkinson, Johnson - or, indeed, Moody It’s all about a young person’s passion and commitment to want to improve themselves thorough sporting endeavour that counts.


From the outset of our discussions about the establishment of a Mad Dog programme at school almost exactly two years ago, it was clear that there was an obvious synergy between our shared vision, values - and ambition for young people through the power of sport to indeed Inspire, encourage and improve…


Mad Dog Team Photo

Twenty-three students are currently part of the programme. All play a full part in student life and the wider sixth form offer. The course itself sits in one of our five option blocks so that students opt for it alongside their other academic subject choices.


Beyond most obvious areas of benefit in terms of student motivation, recruitment and retention there’s another value-added bonus that had really stood out.


Lewis Moody

It’s to do with Lewis himself. And more specifically the cross-curricular benefits arising from his wider passions and status. Lewis is the RFU’s First World War Ambassador, who has championed initiatives such as ‘Rugby Remembers’ with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission - a project to honour rugby players from all levels who lost their lives in the First World War.

Ronald Poulton-Palmer 

It was in this context that members of the Mad Dog programme worked alongside Media Studies students and staff to undertake a video ‘documentary’ project featuring Lewis to explore the life of Ronald Poulton-Palmer, England’s pre-war Captain and local resident who lost his life at the Second Battle of Ypres in May 1915...



In less than two years the Mad Dog programme has established itself as an integral and embedded part of Sixth Form - and wider - school life. It will clearly continue to grow and evolve in its current format. However, there are also future plans to further expand and develop provision by incorporating girls into the programme, with potential for a hubsite working across a number of partner state and independent schools - and local clubs - to grow the Women’s game.


Absolutely no madness in that.