Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States! Each year more and more people are getting involved, and with the inclusion of Rugby 7s in the 2016 Rio Olympics now is the best time to pick up that weird shaped ball and run with it! Most people don’t get involved in rugby until they are in high school or even college, and that is mostly because youth rugby(middle school age or younger) is almost non-existent in the States. Unlike Soccer, Football and Hockey, Rugby isn’t something that kids grow up playing, or watching on TV. VYRA is here to change that.
It is our goal to bring rugby into elementary and middle school gym programs, to set up touch and flag leagues for youth, create summer camps and clinics to increase visibility and interest, develop strong high school teams who produce not only quality athletes, but quality individuals. We believe that rugby is a game that changes lives, and teaches valuable life lessons that help build a strong foundation for success in all aspects of an individuals life.
Elementary and Middle School Age
Unfortunately, we don’t have any youth teams yet, BUT the more Vermont youth demand access to rugby teams and way to learn the game, the faster and easier it will be for VYRA to get the support they need to make it happen. If you have a son or daughter in Middle School or Elementary School who has an interest in rugby, encourage it! Hand them a rugby ball for their birthday and send them out in the yard with their friends to just throw it around (http://www.worldrugbyshop.com/71977.html probably size 4). Get them talking to friends and family about it, show them rugby games on youtube, take an interest in it too! Playing youth soccer or football or hockey, and even wrestling are all great ways to work on rugby skills as well! Yes the rules are different but the athleticism and teamwork learned will help your child pick up rugby even faster when they get the chance.
How can I help get youth teams faster? Good question!
Contact your child’s school district and ask about getting it into gym classes! Rookie Rugby(http://usarugby.org/rookie-rugby#language=english) is a non-contact form of the game that is used across the USA in schools and camps to teach the game in a safe, low pressure environment, and it is time that it came to Vermont. The greater number of both youth and adults we can get even just talking about rugby, the greater chance that we will be able to grow an amazing program here. Be a part of something new and exciting!
High School Age
Many local high schools have both men’s and women’s club teams who take any student who wants to learn, no matter their skill or experience level. The coaches of these teams are highly trained and skilled individuals who donate their time to help develop the next generation of rugby players. The main season for High School rugby is Spring. Teams start recruiting as early at the end of February, and practices start even before all the snow melts. At the end of the regular season there are opportunities for high school age students to try out for State and Regional select side teams who travel to NY and MA for tournaments. Vermont high school rugby has produced many top rugby players, including a few girls who have gone on to play for the USA Under 20 team, and even on the Women’s Eagles themselves, not to mention those who went on to play in college, some of who took it upon themselves to start up a team where they found none.
College or Adult Age(18+)
So, although VYRA is all about youth rugby, it is never too late to learn the game! If you are a college student, check out your school’s team! UVM, Champlain, St. Mikes and Castleton all have teams you can play for. If you are already out of college, or college just isn’t your scene Burlington Men’s and Women’s Club rugby teams are a great place to learn. With a big range of ages and experience levels there is a place for everyone, so get up and get going, the pitch awaits!
In closing I want to just say that youth rugby in Vermont is a work in progress. One that can’t happen without the support of the parents of kids who want to give rugby a shot. A lot of parents thing that rugby is too dangerous, even for their high school students, but to them I want to just point out that rugby is in-fact safer than American Football, and majority of youth rugby leagues are non-contact until the high school level so their is really no reason for you to not let your kid have a chance to learn the newest Olympic sport! Rugby not only teaches the rules of the game, but it teaches respect, passion, hard work, compassion and accountability. It’s not all about winning, it’s about getting out their on the pitch, making new friends and having fun. Anyone can play soccer or football, it’s not often you can say “Yeah my son/daughter plays rugby.” Not only will you be the coolest parents on the block, but your child will be too!