Stefan Sankala, a PE teacher at St. Joseph’s RC High School in Newport has won the National Teacher of the Year Award in Rugby League from the sport’s governing body, the RFL.
Stefan was presented with his award at Wembley Stadium during Saturday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup Final, the day after the St Joseph’s Year 8 Rugby League team which Stefan coaches were crowned national champions.
St Joseph’s RC High School defeated Temple Moor High School of Leeds 38-28 in the Year 8 national final at the Twickenham Stoop.
Stefan Sankala said: “I was on holiday when I received the confirmation that I had won, it was a bit of a shock and I was quite humbled by it.
“I played Rugby League at student and academy level and introduced the sport into the curriculum at St Josephs in collaboration with Wales Rugby League.
“The school have successfully been playing the sport for about five years now and with it being on the curriculum everyone gets the opportunity to play Rugby League and the students really enjoy it.
“We entered every age group in the Carnegie Champion Schools competition and we’ve learnt from every team we’ve played against, the next step for the development of the players is to get them playing for local Rugby League teams as well.”
Mark Jones, the National Development Manager for Wales Rugby League said: “On behalf of everyone at Wales Rugby League, I would like to sincerely congratulate Stefan and his team on their recent outstanding success in winning the Champion Schools at Year 8 level.
“I would also like to congratulate him for winning the Wales Teacher of the Year Award and the National Teacher of the Year Award in Rugby League.
“I wasn’t surprised that the school won the title, as they have an exceptional squad which I have watched develop over the last two years.
“They are well deserved champions as their effort and commitment has been second to none and we wish them further success in the competition.
“Stefan’s personal achievement of winning the Teacher of the Year Award is also well deserved as they have been one of the leading schools in developing Rugby League in Wales.
“I would like to thank Stefan for his continued commitment to Champion Schools and look forward to working with him and his school in future programmes.”
The National Teacher of the Year Award in Rugby League is awarded by the RFL on an annual basis to a teacher who has made an important contribution to the sport in the UK.
RFL National Development Manager, Andy Harland said: “Stefan has done a terrific job with St Joseph’s and this is the first time since 2005 that a Welsh side have won the Carnegie Champion Schools tournament.
“On behalf of the RFL I’d like to congratulate him on this achievement which capped a fantastic win for St Joseph’s in the Year 8 Final.”