This Sunday, 125 years of rugby in the Comox Valley will be celebrated at Village Park in Cumberland courtesy of the Comox Valley Kickers mini-rugby program. Girls and boys ages 12 and under start their first practice at 12:30 p.m.
Rugby is a dynamic contact sport that is played in over 100 countries by men and women of all different classes, creeds, and races. It fosters friendship and camaraderie between players. To celebrate one recent Christmas, men from the American and New Zealand research stations in Antarctica played a game of rugby against each other on those southernmost frozen wastelands.
Most rugby players have played with and against people from other nations. Rugby participation is not yet ranked amongst the top 10 sports in Canada, however Rugby Canada has taken on the responsibility to “grow the game” in this country. This task has been passed on to regional associations and local rugby clubs, which constitute what, is known in New Zealand as the “heartland” of rugby.
When teams play countries or clubs with well-established mini-rugby programs often the gap in basic skill and “game sense” is apparent. Paul Timperely, former Director of Development, BC Rugby tells this story about a game he attended after coaching in England:
“I recall watching a game between a visiting Scottish school and a North Shore All Stars team: when the teams walked out onto the field I felt sorry for the Scottish team – man for man they were so much smaller than the Canadian players who were all very big and athletic. I felt sure that the Scots were in for a very hard game.
“Once the game started, it was clearly not the case – the Scottish kids had been playing mini-rugby since they were five years old, had great basic skills and knew where they should be positional at all times and their support and back up play was excellent.
“In contrast the Canadian players, who had started Rugby in Grade 8 for the first time, had poor basic skills, played the game very hard physically but ineffectively, and were isolated and out of position most of the time, losing possession and giving up points as a result. My immediate thought was that if I wanted my own two young sons to play rugby, I’d better leave Canada for more enlightened shores!”
The mini game forms the foundation for the acquisition of basic skills and understanding. As important if not more so, it teaches cooperation, confidence, respect, and inclusion for all developmental abilities. The following account of a recent mini-rugby jamboree gives a sense of these learning moments:
“The rain put up a good fight, but ended up losing to smiles and laughter, not to mention a good dose of hot dogs and other treats. The kindergarten to Grade 5 kids played a total of eight sportsmanship-focused games. Teams shared players to keep the games flowing and games were paused to help players develop their skills and ensure safe play. So while scores may have been kept, at the end of the day most kids were celebrating the spectacular moments, and trying to forget the errors.”
If your child is age six to 12, take them out to mini-rugby. Better yet have them bring a buddy. Practices are twice a week with games (jamborees) taking place up and down the Island every two to three weeks. Registration is $100 per season. Come out and give it a try this Sunday with one of the oldest clubs in B. C.
– Comox Valley Kickers Rugby Football Club