Lee Irvine joined Embley earlier this month as Director of Sport from Rugby School Thailand. A professional coach and former semi-pro rugby player, Lee created Wellingborough School’s Under 8s to Under 13s National Schools’ Rugby Tournament for the Midlands region, established girls’ cricket into the curriculum and set up a sports leadership awards programme for the mentoring of junior pupils by senior pupils.
Here, Lee answers a few questions about himself and his aspirations for sport at Embley.
What brought you to Embley?
Back in my early teaching days I use to travel to Embley for its annual Rugby Sevens Tournament. I was always impressed by the school; its grounds, pupils and staff, and we were always made to feel welcome. It is a school that offers a broad education with strong relationships between pupils, their teachers and parents.
What have been your first impressions?
It’s a friendly community and there’s a real sense of passion and excitement as you walk around the school grounds. Everyone seems to always have a smile on their face. We as staff and pupils are very lucky to have such beautiful grounds to learn and play in.
What is are your vision for sport at Embley?
I want to implement and develop an exciting 21st century curriculum model for sport at the school that is underpinned by core traditional values and which promotes a thirst for challenge and success: inspiring resilience, confidence, integrity and humanity. I want us to create a competitive culture and winning mentality that is easily transferable to the wider community of the school and to instil in each pupil a professional sporting mindset.
What are your plans for trips and sports tours?
In short, a lot. In previous roles I have organised and led school trips/sports tours in the UK, Europe and internationally, ski trips, PGL for middle school pupils, water sports residentials to the South of France, days out at Twickenham for the Internationals and Rugby Sevens, Varsity matches and visits to Lord’s cricket grounds.
My plan is to create an exciting and diverse trips and tours programme at Embley, where pupils can learn and enhance their skills, develop lifelong friendships and enjoy experiences that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Where do you see the school’s sport portfolio in five years’ time?
I see Embley becoming renowned in many of its major sports nationally, having much success in traditional sports such as hockey, rugby, cricket and athletics, alongside more national and international awards for our outdoor adventure sports such as sailing and skiing.
What teams do you support?
Bath Rugby, Wales and Tottenham Hotspur.
What’s your favourite book?
This is a very tough one… I’d have to say I have two favourites: ‘Winning’ by Sir Clive Woodward and ‘Legacy’ by James Kerr.
What’s your favourite film?
Cool Runnings and Invictus.
Do you have any guilty food pleasures?
It has to be Nando’s with a large piri piri fries!
Who are the top three people you’d like to bring to Embley for our students to meet and why (living, dead or fictional)?
(1) Nelson Mandela for the impact he made to a nation through sport. He would have some great stories to tell. (2) Michael Jackson – now that would be the entertainment sorted! (3) Jessica Ennis-Hill because she’s an outstanding ambassador for her sport and played such a big role in changing the views on women in sport. She would have some great stories to tell and an interesting career.
Lee has a BA Degree in Sports Studies, a National Diploma in Sports Development and Coaching (Distinction), a Diploma in Sports Psychology (Distinction) and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Wales. He holds a Level 3 Rugby Union coaching award and has experience of coaching rugby from District and County through to Academy and National levels.