Former England scrum half Lee Dickson is back at his old Barnard Castle School where he is now the new Master in Charge of Rugby, with big ambitions for elite sport.
Battling the elements and the opposition on Barney’s back fields as a member of the first XV launched him on a “crazy, enjoyable and tough” 15-year career in the sport.
The former England international and one-time Premiership Rugby winner now plans to develop the programme further by creating greater access to the sport for those from a young age.
“As soon as this opportunity came about, it was a no-brainer,” he says. “This place is in my heart; I had the best time of my life here.
“It is going to be an exciting season and a great building block. We recently had five members of the senior team turnout for the Newcastle Falcons U18s and have a couple of exciting prospects coming into the side.
“But, for me, it is about developing the younger generation of the school. I want my message to filter right through to the Prep School, so that the basics of rugby are instilled into the kids and they have fun with the sport.”
Lee is already settling well into life in the North, after retiring from the game at the start of 2019 – where he last played for Bedford Blues.
His new role will be much more than teaching the fundamentals of rugby to youngsters and honing their raw talent. He is equally keen to enhance players’ soft skills beyond the pitch.
“My ambition is to create ‘C’ team rugby out of the school,” he explains. “It is great that we have strong A and B sides, but rugby brings a lot out of people and I feel that every child should want to play it and for it not to be forced. Gone are the days when people are shouting and screaming at each other; it has to be fun. I want them to go out there, be a free spirit and enjoy their rugby.
“It isn’t just our students’ playing ability and physical nature, it’s their attitude towards rugby. They all have a great deal of respect and are well mannered, which is very important to the school and the sport as a whole.
“Even if they are not going to be a world-class rugby player, what rugby instils in people is friendship and a bond that allows you to express yourself. It is like a brotherhood.
“I will have done my job when, after students are sent on their way after sixth form, they still love playing the game of rugby.”