Rugby World Cup blog for kids

During the Rugby World Cup I am going to be writing a regular short blog for children to read either in school and at home. It’s going to be about five different things:

  1. my diary of the tournament (with dodgy match predictions)
  2. about my ‘live’ story, The Twickenham Trials (see here) – how I am writing and researching it
  3. video reviews of great Rugby World Cup reads in books, magazines and online
  4. competitions where you can win copies of my Rugby Academy books
  5. and… probably some other things too.


Rugby World Cup Activity Book

Let’s start with a book review. I’ve read a few preview books about the Rugby World Cup. Some are great. Some are not so great. The Rugby World Cup Activity Book is one of the best. Lots to do. Lots to learn. Recommended also by my 11 year old daughter. Watch my video review here and see if you want to read it.


England v Fiji

The Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday this week with England v Fiji. Who do you think will win? Most people think England will, but I think everyone knows it is not going to be easy. If England are nervous and make mistakes, the Fijians could rip though us. I predict that it will be very close for the first half. But I think over the 80 minutes that England will be a fitter team and will score enough points in the last half an hour to win the game. Maybe by 10 points. That’s what I think. But I don’t know much. What do you think?


Coming soon…

Tomorrow I’ll blog about the school that is right next to Twickenham Stadium and how they have been helping me to write The Twickenham Trials.

Enjoy the tournament.


Find out more about my live Rugby World Cup story here.

And find out about my rugby reading and writing activities here.

A Rugby World Cup story for schools

From Thursday this week I am writing a daily story that is set during the Rugby World Cup – as it happens. It will be a thriller with lots of outrageous cliffhangers.

It is aimed at schools to be used as a classroom read. In 22 episodes lasting between 5 and 10 minutes.

I will write each chapter the night before it is published, so that I can draw on Rugby World Cup events on and off the pitch and put them into an almost ‘live’ story.

I have done this in the past with football tournaments and it does seem to engage the children.

The story will be published on line before 6 a.m. every school day, beginning with this chapter (the only pre-written chapter) on Thursday 17th September and ending on Friday 16th October. This is so that teachers can download and print it to read at the beginning of the school day. Or later.

Also, parents are invited to read it to their children at bedtime.

It is free and will be published by the RFU, who have commissioned me to write it.

You can find chapter one text here. You need to sign up for the website, but it is a mercifully easy process.

There is a a video of me reading chapter one at Elland Road here.

We have also produced a lot of free literacy resources that you can use to inspire reading for pleasure around the Rugby World Cup. They can be found here.

If you have any problems please contact me via my website

And please do pass this on to any teachers or parents who you think might be interested.

Thank you.

Host a POP UP Rugby World Cup reading group

Setting up a reading group is not easy. Nor is recruiting members. But it can be a very effective way of encouraging children to read whole books – or another reading material – and to talk about it, leading them on to read more widely.

The Rugby World Cup is a great time to test the water with a POP-UP READING GROUP. These fifteen questions about running a rugby reading group that could help you to make the right choices.

Also, if you read one of my books, I can offer to answer your children’s questions by email. And send you a poster pack of rugby literacy material.

ONE: Give the reading group a good name. Calling it a reading group or a book group may put people off. Ask rugby fans at the school to name it. Think of rugby concepts. The Pack. Scrum Readers. Something like that. It will give them ownership.

TWO: Ask yourself why you are running a book group. Is it for children who love reading and you want to get them talking? Or is it for reluctant readers and you are using rugby as a way to stimulate their interest? Approach the children that you are most looking to help.

THREE: Who will the group leader be? A Rugby Reader? The P.E. teacher? A teacher with an interest in rugby? Who will the children want to join to talk about books?

FOUR: How will you promote it? Put posters in the school, the library, in the P.E. part of the school? Send letters home to parents? Ask the rugby coaches to recommend the group to their players: to say it’ll help their game. Host a big event to start the group and to build excitement around the idea. See the events and activities pages for ideas.

FIVE: How many children do you want in your group? Five may be too few. Twenty too many. The idea number for adult book groups is 10-12. But can you be sure everyone will come every time?

SIX: When will you meet? At lunch? After school? During an English lesson? When is the best time for you, other teachers and the children?

SEVEN: How can you encourage the children to come back to the next group? Is there a way of rewarding loyalty? Can you bribe them, with biscuits – or pieces of fruit? What will it take?

EIGHT: How will you start each session? Can you read the book or magazine first and jot down a few questions to ask them? Or can your Rugby Readers be charged with this task?

NINE: Do you need to warm the session up before you launch into a conversation about a book? Ask each of the group to bring a newspaper article or something off the web to tell the others about.

TEN: What will you choose to read? Will you decide? Or the Rugby Readers? Can you find something they would all like to read in this list? There are lost of different kinds of rugby reads recommended there.

ELEVEN: How can you make sure everyone speaks in your book group? If there is someone quiet, ask them a direct question, something gentle, to build their confidence.

TWELVE: Be controversial. If everyone says the book is great, that they love it, find something to criticise about it. Get the group’s passions going. Make it into a book argument.

THIRTEEN: Talk about books in a rugby way. Ask children to say why they didn’t finish a book. What was wrong with it? Can they ascribe a rugby injury to the book’s weakness? Was it slow and boring – unfit? Did not make sense at the end – a broken leg?

FOURTEEN: How will you finish? What can you do to make the children come back? Talk about what you are going to read next. Ask them to choose it for you. Keep changing what it is you read. Not only fiction. Try a magazine. Try a book about playing the game.

FIFTEEN: Does the piece of reading material lend itself to a guest you could invite to the school. A journalist? An author? Or a rugby coach if you are talking about a rugby tactics book? Having an expert alongside you would enhance the children’s experience of what they are talking about.

As I have said above, if you would like to choose one of my books, I would be very happy to answer an email with a set of questions and comments from your pupils. My Rugby Academy series details are here.

I can also send you a set of free posters and player cards for your rugby book group too. Just contact me via my website.

For more free ideas and resources about using the Rugby World Cup to encourage children to read for pleasure, please visit and check out the Read Rugby toolkit. It takes less than a minute to subscribe.


Make a classroom Rugby World Cup reading display

Using a major sporting tournament as a hook for a display is a great way of engaging new children with reading. Combining a giant score-chart, a world map and photographs of sporting heroes along with encouragement and prompts to read for pleasure is guerrilla reader development at its finest. Below are ten ideas for a rugby reading display.

The wall display can go where wall displays work best for you. In the library. In the classroom. In the hall. In reception. A place where the children – and maybe their parents – can revisit it, taking advantage of its interactive elements.


One: centrepiece

You need something visual at the centre of the display. Something to catch the eye. To excite the imagination. A World Map featuring all 20 teams taking part in the Rugby World Cup. A Rugby World Cup wall chart – from a magazine or homemade. A huge image of the trophy or a player. An England (or other) rugby top. One you have your centrepiece you can build you display around that.


Two: rugby reading goal

Use strips of white paper on a green background to make a giant – or medium sized – set of rugby posts in the classroom, library or hall. Ask children to fill in book reviews on our free downloadable rugby ball shaped review sheet, then challenge them to put the ball where it belongs. Between the posts if it was great. Wide of the mark if not so good. Leave it up to them.


Three: newspaper match previews and reports

It is important to constantly refresh a tournament wall display. Choose the best online or print daily articles and pin them up towards the foot of the display so that everyone can read them.


Four: book and magazine covers

Include cover images of books and magazines to do with rugby. Make them as important parts of the display as what is going on in the tournament. Try and make sure the books are relevant to the tournament. For instance biographies of participating players. Histories of teams involved. Include some rugby fiction.

It is okay for you to use cover images printed off the internet or photocopied. Publishers and authors see it as promotion, not a copyright issue. As long as you don’t alter the cover – or use only part of it, then go ahead and use it.


Five: rugby reading selfies

Ask children and teachers to take rugby reading selfies of themselves reading rugby books, newspapers and magazines. Perhaps in rugby settings like stadiums, with a rugby ball, on a rugby pitch. Challenge them to come up with extreme rugby reading ideas. Offer a prize for the most original.


Six: prediction league

Challenge individuals or whole classes to predict all the results of the tournament. Keep a chart of which class or rugby fan is in the lead on your display. Offer a prize for the winner. Update it every day to encourage children to check it – and the other aspects of the display – out.


Seven: table of books and magazines

If you can, place a table of rugby books, magazines and newspapers underneath the display, then everyone coming to have a look at it can be tempted to borrow a book or at least have a browse. Put magazines and newspapers on there too.


Eight: rugby props

Decorate the display with familiar rugby props. (No pun intended.) Balls. Shirts. Shorts. Socks. Skullcaps. Mouth guards. Anything you can find.


Nine: websites

If you can put the display up in front of a computer terminal, then make sure the home page on the terminal is one of the main rugby websites (see the list of good sites in appendix). Encourage children to browse the website, hopefully attracting more online rugby readers.


Ten: local support

Ask a local rugby club player or coach to recommend a good read. Choose an older player who might have kids. Suggest they send a signed photo or hand-written letter that can become an important part of the display.

For more free ideas and resources about using the Rugby World Cup to encourage children to read for pleasure, please visit and check out the Read Rugby toolkit. It takes less than a minute to subscribe.

5 rugby reading resources

I am doing five things to help schools use this and next month’s Rugby World Cup to encourage children to read for pleasure.

All are free.



From September 17 you can download a free daily (weekdays) story called The Twickenham Trials. The story will be written by me every day as the World Cup unfolds. Packed with cliffhangers and chances for children to vote on the outcome, it is designed to be read in schools for five minutes every morning.  Read this blog to find out more:



Read Rugby is a toolkit of ideas for schools and libraries to use to promote reading for pleasure during the tournament – from the staffroom, through school settings, to activities children can do with their parents at home. You can download that from



On the same webpage as Read Rugby there are 15 rugby writing and reading drills for the classroom.  Rugby uses focussed drills to develop players’ specific skills: these drills should do the same for your pupils’ reading and writing skills. You can download that from



Blogs and vlogs for children and adults about both the Rugby World Cup itself and things they can read around the tournament. All linked by the hashtag #ReadRugby. You can see them here.



The free story mentioned above will feature the three main characters from my new Rugby Academy trilogy, which is aimed at 8+ and published by Barrington Stoke. The books have already had five-star reviews from Rugby World magazine. They are available right now. More info here.

Thanks you for reading. I hope these are useful. Please tell other teachers, librarians and parents about them.