PUPILS at one school got to meet a sport coaching great in class.

Olympic rugby coach, Euan Mackintosh visited The Mount School York on Wednesday, spending the day meeting with pupils and staff and sharing his experiences as an Olympic rugby coach. The Scot, who coached the China national women’s rugby 7s team to seventh place in the Tokyo Olympics, called the visit “a valuable experience” and praised pupils of the all-girl Quaker school for assimilating his message while giving him ideas to reflect on.

“It’s been absolutely brilliant. Having been through a journey with a group of female athletes, it’s nice to share the experience with a group of young females. The girls have been brilliant. They’ve tried to make a connection between what I’ve showed them and what they’ve been doing, whether it’s general psychology, or PE or simply about being resilient. They’ve asked some really interesting questions, which has made me reflect on things I probably haven’t reflected on, so it’s been a very valuable experience for me, and hopefully for them too,” said Mackintosh.

The rugby coach was an invited guest of The Mount’s new Principal, David Griffiths.

The two friends first met in China during Mackintosh’s tenure as coach while Griffiths was Headmaster of a leading school in China and also Technical Advisor to the China Rugby Football Association.

His visit to The Mount included presentations to pupils studying GCSE and A-Level PE and A-Level Psychology, taking the Year 9s through rugby drills similar to those he taught his Olympic squad, meeting staff and enjoying a meal with Sixth Form pupils. He was impressed with what he saw.

“The girls are in a thriving environment where things are very open and they are able to express themselves which I think it’s really nice to see that. They all obviously feel very comfortable being here which is a great start because if you’re not comfortable in your environment it is very difficult to learn,” said Mackintosh.

Pupils were equally as impressed with their Olympian visitor.

Isabel, who is in the lower Sixth Form and is North of England’s U20 women’s champion in the pole vault and also a sprinter, said, “I thought it was an amazing talk. Everything he said relates to our A-Level and GCSE PE coursework, and also applies to A-Level Psychology. He shared with us a video of the China women’s rugby 7s team when they made it to the top 8 of the competition in Tokyo; their response was amazing. What I’ve learned from his visit which will also help my EPQ (extended project qualification).”

Ava in Year 10, who dances with the Northern Ballet Academy’s associate programme, said, “I thought Euan’s talk was inspiring. It was amazing to see how much the team were training to prepare for the Olympics. He answered all of our questions.”