Donors Like You Introduce Thousands of Kids to Rugby

Rugby fans and supporters like you have the power to make a difference and grow the game. Individuals like you are introducing kids like Emma to the game every day, giving them the opportunity to learn about teamwork, develop their skills and have fun with their teammates! This is why USA Rugby Trust was created – as an avenue to get rugby balls into kids’ hands sooner, to foster the Olympic dream and to develop the talent of America’s future rugby stars.

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Thanks to a generous grant created by supporters of USA Rugby Trust, thousands of children will be exposed to rugby at a young age in the New York area. Earlier this year, $3,330 was raised at a USA Rugby Trust event with the intent of granting Rookie Rugby in a Box kits to physical education programs and youth rugby clubs in the United States. Each box contains all of the tools needed to play flag rugby: two Rookie Rugby balls, boundary cones, flag belts, game play and skills cards, and a comprehensive education manual. After explaining to USA Rugby the many ways these boxes could be used to make an impact in their area, Rugby NY was selected to receive 20 of these boxes.

Director of Rugby NY Evan Tabachnick has been instrumental in ensuring these kits are put to good use. This fall, Tabachnick and others from the organization visited SHAPE America conferences in the northeast to demonstrate how rugby can be taught in physical education classes. At these conferences, Rugby NY puts on a presentation wherein physical education teachers are encouraged to participate in a Rookie Rugby lesson plan from start to finish. Rugby NY also raffles kits off to conference attendees to garner more interest for youth rugby. “It really gets programs started,” explains Tabachnick. “We have a lot of teams in the area pop up because a teach won a raffle.”

When asked what kind of impact these boxes can make on rugby in the area, Tabachnick’s estimate was astonishing. He explains, “We had 102 teachers sign up at the state-wide conference, and I anticipate the other three zone conferences will bring another 100 total. If you try to come up with an average number of students who will engage in the program, you can estimate maybe 50 students per school. This means 10,000 students or more could be reached this year as a result. And this is a conservative estimate.”

Rookie Rugby in a Box is popular with physical education teachers and students alike. By nature, the game is a change of pace for many American students – the idea of throwing the ball backward rather than forward is a new concept to add to their athletic skillset. More importantly, though, Tabachnick stressed the value of inclusivity in the game: “You can look at a comparison to flag football. A lot of times you’ll have kids who aren’t moving or touching the ball. But in flag rugby, everyone needs to learn the same skills and be involved. Everyone needs to run and throw and catch. It gets everyone moving, and that’s what makes the kids love it,” explains Tabachnick.

Clearly, there is vast potential to grow the next generation of rugby players through programs such as Rookie Rugby in a Box. “We’re definitely getting the interest, initial stages of education and exposure of the game to the youngest age groups,” says Tabachnick. “This has been Rugby NY’s primary focus. It lays a solid foundation; it helps establish a feeder system into high school teams to foster talent in players who will be active in the game for years.” He adds, “This is something all the other successful sports in the United States do – start off players as young as possible with modified rules. Rookie Rugby is co-educational and inclusive, so it’s yielding great results.”

Youth rugby programs can not only build the talent of players who will soon participate in high school rugby, but it can have a lasting and long-term effect on our national teams as well. Ultimately, as we begin to teach rugby to athletes at a younger age, they will develop their skills and knowledge of the game earlier, providing a larger and more developed talent pool for our age-grade All-American and National teams in the future.

By making a tax-deductible contribution to USA Rugby Trust, you are investing in the future of rugby in the United States. USA Rugby Trust thanks our generous donors who have dedicated themselves to growing and developing the game, including the following individuals who made donations to make this grant possible:

  • Keith Barr
  • Jessica Bogdan
  • Werner Camacho
  • Joseph Cavatoni
  • Keith Dawson
  • David Dignam
  • David Drinkwater
  • Chris Evans
  • Ty Francis
  • Bruce Gibson
  • Christopher Reed
  • Patrick Ryan
  • Paul Shepherd
  • Jonathan Short
  • Andrew Suckling
  • Matt Thompson
  • Jim Tolfree
  • Anastasia Tonello
  • Danny Waldron
  • John Greenland
  • Matt Hawksworth
  • Scott Herling
  • Andrew Johnman
  • David Lee
  • Gene Lennon
  • Michelle Marwood
  • Dan Morris
  • Peter O’Brien
  • Jock Percy

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