Youth rugby continues to grow in B.C.

Rugby Canada encourages kids to play with Rookie Rugby

On March 3, 2020, the Australian men's 7s team were involved in a skill session with students of David Thompson Secondary School. Courtesy of Eugene Gallant
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Reported by Jacob Hoheisel

Despite the sport’s aggressive physical contact, rugby can be played safely by kids of all ages, according to club players at Capilano RFC, who hope B.C.’s rugby pool will grow deeper among younger children.

Earlier this month, Rugby Canada, which has been working to get kids across the country excited about the sport, held the HSBC Rookie Rugby Festival along with BC Rugby at Vancouver’s Andy Livingston Field. More than 400 children aged 5-12 tested their skills and met Canadian national rugby stars, including Olympian Ghislaine Landry. 

The program involves a non-contact, co-ed form of rugby using flag belts, allowing players to develop the basics.

Capilano Rugby Club player Matthew Murphy said safety concerns are definitely a factor in whether young people take up rugby.

“I think [it’s] a new problem where a lot of people are nervous about getting into a contact sport, or putting their kids into contact sport due to concussions or whatnot,” he said

Giles Klaber, who also plays for the Capilano rugby club, called it “a bit of an aggressive sport” but added, “With the proper learning and teaching it can be a very safe sport as well.”

According to BC Rugby, more than 6 million people around the world play rugby, and youth rugby participation continues to grow rapidly in Canada. 

The HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver were played on March 7-8. HSBC also had professional players go to schools and hold rugby clinics. David Thompson Secondary School was one of those schools.

Eugene Gallant, a gym teacher from David Thompson Secondary School said the impact of the clinics on the students was massive.

“It brought a lot of attention to the sport, [and] the rugby sevens tournament … and as a result they’ve had … maybe … seven new players come to the program from various grades, both male and female.”

Murphy says the best way to get kids exposed to rugby is through schools.

“Being exposed in their gym programs, that’d be the most sure-fire way to get kids exposed. Whether that gets them hooked or not remains to be seen.”

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