Over 2,000 California youth now “Rookie Ruggers”
“Today we will be playing rugby,” USA Rugby Youth Development Manager Erin Kennedy told a gym full of anxious students at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California and the kids did just that: played rugby in school.
In a remarkable weeklong effort spearheaded by Kennedy and Kurt Weaver of RugbyOhio, Rookie Rugby was introduced to over 2,500 kids in Southern California during the week of November 15.
Rookie Rugby is a game that is targeted at children ages 5-12. It’s a fun, safe, and enjoyable sporting experience that aims to expose the popular international game of rugby to America’s youth. Rookie Rugby programs are administered through schools, community-based and State-Based Rugby Organizations (SBROs), as well as USA Rugby national events.
Through coach trainings, physical education classes, afterschool clinics, and community organizations, Kennedy and Weaver introduced Rookie Rugby to over 2,500 kids (2,000 participated and 500 saw a demonstration), 35 teachers, and 75 coaches at 16 different locations.
“To introduce rugby to over 2,000 kids in one week is an incredible step forward for the sport,” said Kennedy.
“Giving these kids an opportunity to play rugby in school is the first step for creating future players and fans. This initiative is just the first of many that will contribute to the growth of the game in the United States.”
To enable the newly-educated students and teachers to continue their rugby education, each location received three rugby balls and the Rookie Rugby curriculum. Each host club received five rugby balls courtesy of World Rugby Shop.
USA Rugby worked with Southern California Youth Rugby to pinpoint locations to visit in order to reach kids, teachers, parents, coaches, and administrators and inspire them to fall in love with rugby.
Vice President of Southern California Youth Rugby, Ravi Perera, said, "We were very happy and fortunate to have USA Rugby come down to Southern California…and promote Rookie Rugby to clubs and schools in the area. Well over 2,000 kids were introduced to rugby within a week, and this should definitely help raise the number of young rugby players in Southern California."
The weeklong training initiative was held in conjunction with the Girls U19 National All-Star Championship that was held in Mission Viejo on November 20 and 21. The week concluded with the Championship game, which saw the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union (MARFU) side claiming the championship over the U17s Women’s National Team.
To view pictures and videos from the week, please visit USA Rugby: Youth and High School’s Facebook page.
To learn more about Rookie Rugby: