For Immediate Release
October 24, 2011
USA Rugby’s ‘Rookie Rugby’ Wins IRB Development Award
Union vice-chairman, Bob Latham, was on hand to accept the award on behalf of USA Rugby at the star-studded IRB Awards Ceremony on Sunday October 23 in Auckland, just one day after the New Zealand All Blacks won the 2011 Rugby World Cup there.
On the same night that the IRB announced the Player of the Year (Thierry Dusautoir, France), Team of the Year (New Zealand All Blacks), and inducted rugby legends Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) and South African rugby legend Francois Pienaar (who was portrayed by Matt Damon in the 2009 blockbuster, Invictus) into the Rugby Hall of Fame, the IRB gave a nod to the growth of the youth game with the Development Award.
According to the IRB, Rookie Rugby “introduced a whole new raft of fans and athletes to the sport through programs administered through schools, community-based and state-based rugby organizations and USA Rugby national events. The initial aim was to introduce 100,000 new children to rugby but the reality has far outstripped that and continues to gather momentum.”
USA Rugby launched Rookie Rugby in 2008 as a non-contact introductory version of the game that enables young players to enjoy the camaraderie, fitness, and character building inherent in the sport. Rookie Rugby was played by over 350,000 children in 2010 and is on track to reach about a half million in 2011.
One of the many attractive aspects of Rookie Rugby is that it presents a low-cost and easily implemented fitness activity option for many schools and community programs. USA Rugby also provides instructional resources such as lesson plans, videos of drills, and skill and game cards to ensure proper and easy implementation.
BALL FOR ALL SCHOOLS PROGRAM
To further attract educators and community organization leaders to the sport, Sports Authority, a leading sporting goods retailer in the United States, has partnered with USA Rugby to offer free size four Rookie Rugby balls to schools.
The ‘Ball for All Schools’ program (ballforallschools.usarugby.org) launched in early August and over 500 schools have taken part all over the United States.
The USA Eagles’ Rugby World Cup players Eric Fry, Kevin Swiryn, Colin Hawley, Mate Moeakiola, Inaki Basauri, Nic Johnson, and Blaine Scully even used their considerable acting abilities to help promote the program.
The award comes at an exciting time for USA Rugby as the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the 2011 Pan-American Games have created a significant amount of interest in the game, rapidly increasing its exposure in the United States.