4th Annual YCOG Positive and Useful
Over 140 youth rugby coaches, administrators, and advocates convened in Indianapolis, Indiana for the fourth annual Youth Conference on the Game. As USA Rugby CEO, Nigel Melville, mentioned in his opening speech at the Conference, the tone and focus of youth rugby has become very positive and the momentum created by the exploding youth game is the foundation with which the USA can create excellent players and rugby programs.
The overall mood of the event was energetic and positive, with excellent rugby leaders coming together from all over the country sharing ideas, best practices, and networking with other administrators and coaches.
The outgoing Director of Youth and High School Rugby, Mark Griffin, kicked the conference off with the roll out of Rookie Rugby 7s. Rookie Rugby 7s features a safe introduction to contact and set-piece like scrums, lineouts, and rucks. Participants were trained in the new form of the game and also were taught skills and drills by former internationals Luke Gross and Nigel Melville. Youth Development Manager, Erin Kennedy and Rugby Ohio's Kurt Weaver engaged the conference participants in what turned out to be fairly competitive Rookie Rugby games.
Following the introduction of RR 7s came valuable sessions such as Rookie Rugby 7s Referee course presented by USA Rugby Director of Referee Development, Ed Todd; Rugby Activation and Starting High School and Middle School programs; and Fundraising and Monetizing Rugby. On day two, a coaches roundtable featuring Lee Kelly from Gonzaga High School, John Klein from Divine Savior Holy Angles HS in Wisconsin, and Mike Tolkin head coach at Xavier HS and USA Eagles coach was held and they discussed how they engaged their parents, athletic directors, and coaches from other sports to help grow the program.
The Youth Program Manager from Minnesota, Andrew Mase, who gave a wonderful presentation on utilizing college to expand youth rugby programs had this to say: "It was a great weekend...No matter what part of the game you're involved in, you can take something away from this conference."
"We're thrilled with the turnout. Amazing people are doing amazing things for the sport all over the country and we are excited to help support those people in any way we can. They are inspirational to us, so we know they must be making a huge difference in the lives of the kids they are involved with," said Erin Kennedy, Youth Development Manager and Conference organizer.
USA Rugby would like to thank all the participants in the conference, and the event sponsors:
World Rugby Shop
Canterbury of New Zealand
Holy Moly Strap
Rookie Rugby 7s