Wales internationals Aaron Wainwright and Siwan Lillicrap have backed an innovative collaboration to use gaming and rugby to support Welsh education using a brand new Principality Stadium Minecraft world to inspire learners.

The Welsh Rugby Union has joined forces with Minecraft: Education Edition and Hwb, the Welsh Government’s digital platform for learning and teaching to launch ‘The Club of the Future Challenge’ which includes a virtual tour of Principality Stadium.

This unique competition is open to all maintained schools across Wales and is part of an exciting partnership to use rugby and the digital gaming platform – Minecraft: Education Edition to enhance learning and engagement within the classroom in line with the curriculum for Wales.

Launched into schools this week, this competition will give learners across Wales the chance to design and build their own virtual club of the future within Minecraft: Education Edition. Learners will get a virtual tour of the iconic home of Welsh Rugby, Principality Stadium as never seen before – within the world of Minecraft: Education Edition! The competition will be open to learners from the ages of 5 to 16, with local and regional rounds before the final in March 2021.

Entering the world of Minecraft: Education Edition, learners will be able to explore key areas and spaces within a virtual Principality Stadium, meeting NPCs (Non Player Characters) along the way who will reveal information about that particular area of the building. It’s at this point, that learners and teachers have the opportunity to download further information, including facts, figures and visual materials such as behind the scenes imagery and videos from the WRU on various aspects of Welsh rugby. Information gathered from the stadium tour and the subsequent tasks delivered in the classroom are geared up to challenge what each learner’s ‘Club of the Future’ might contain.

The areas covered may include inclusion and diversity, team training regimes and player nutritional requirements to the fan experience. Learners will be encouraged to consider their local community, research and explore the needs in their local areas to then start to develop a plan for a ‘rugby club of the future’. Rugby clubs are often the heart of local communities, so learners will learn about the values of rugby and how this can be used to provide everyone with a positive experience and contribute to the long-term health and wellbeing of society in Wales. From the plan, learners will then begin to bring their own vision for a club of the future to life within Minecraft: Education Edition.

This project has been developed by Hwb to ensure that a wide range of curriculum links to Areas of Learning and Experience are met: Expressive Arts, Health & Wellbeing, Humanities, Language & Literacy Communication, Numeracy and Science & Technology.

Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams said: “I’m so pleased that we’ve partnered with the WRU and Minecraft: Education Edition to allow learners to create their own rugby club of the future!

“I know life has been very different this year, but our Hwb platform shows how we can continue to support learning and developing key skills to support our curriculum by launching the competition to schools in Wales.”

WRU Community Director Geraint John said, “This is a unique initiative which uses the power of rugby and digital innovation to engage young people in learning. We are thrilled to join forces with Hwb and Minecraft: Education Edition to bring this exciting project to life for learners during what is a challenging time for all.

“We are looking forward to taking on board the vision of the young people who take part in the Club of the Future Challenge to help Welsh community rugby become more sustainable and inclusive for future generations.”

Minecraft: Education Edition Executive Producer Allison Matthews said: “Minecraft Build Challenges are a fun way to engage learners in solving issues around sustainability, inclusivity, and accessibility while inspiring them to create their ideal world. This Welsh Rugby challenge will continue to build on the amazing work that Hwb has done in providing access to Minecraft: Education Edition for all learners, across every subject.”

Wales and Dragons back row Aaron Wainwright said, “Having something interactive like Minecraft is a great way of learning. You can build stuff, you can speak to your friends on your consoles and the rugby link is good too.

“The Minecraft project will be massive for Welsh Rugby, especially grassroots. It will encourage pupils to go to their club, get involved and actually start playing the game.”

Wales Women captain Siwan Lillicrap said, “I grew up at Waunarlwydd Rugby Club and if I was designing a rugby club today I’d make sure the on-field facilities were top quality and cater for all weathers but I’d also make sure the off-field facilities lend themselves to socialising and making friends for life, for example with a games area.
“I would definitely encourage more girls to join a club. I’ve made best friends for life through rugby. It teaches you to overcome challenges, team work is extremely important, as well as looking out for each other.”

The overall challenge has six stages: Explore and Investigate (via the Principality Stadium Minecraft world), Research, Planning, Building, Information Sharing and finally the creation of a video walkthrough of the learners build.

Through the ‘Explore and Investigate’ stage teachers have the option to focus their learners in on a wide range of activities, such as the investigation of nutrition and healthy eating from both the perspective of a rugby player and a non-sports person. Learners will be encouraged to design a nutritious menu for a day’s meals, consider the various social occasions when food plays an important role. All linking to the Health and Well Being, Humanities Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE).

Other curriculum areas include Language Literacy and Communication. Learners will consider how Newspapers have had a big influence on rugby becoming a vital ingredient in the life blood of the Welsh nation. Learners could turn their hand to writing a newspaper article or even role play a video interview.

How do you enter?
The competition is open to all maintained schools across Wales however, they must register via the dedicated Microsoft competition Team. CLICK HERE to join the competition team.

The competition structure has been designed for three age related entry levels – Foundation Phase, Key Stage Two and Key Stage Three/ Four.

The deadline for the local round of the competition is Friday 5 February 2021 after which there will be regional semi-finals and a national final on March 2.

Each school who registers via Teams to enter the competition are advised to run their own ‘in-school’ competition for their learners before entering the local round. Certificates of participation will be available for schools to award to their learners.