Vancouver, BC – February 6, 2019: Last week, BC Rugby’s Darcy Patterson had the pleasure of introducing 600+ elementary school kids to the game of rugby through school delivery on Bowen Island and in Prince Rupert. The article below talks about these sessions and the importance that they play in growing the game of Rugby.
Grassroots plays a vital role in helping to grow the game across the Province of BC. The introduction of Rookie Rugby has allowed BC Rugby to do a lot more school delivery over the last two years, in communities from Smithers to Campbell River and many places in between. Rookie Rugby is a non-contact introduction to the sport of rugby, using fun games that kids may already know and incorporating a rugby ball into them. This makes it easy for kids to enjoy and just as easy for teachers to learn, replicate and build upon.
Our week of delivery started on Bowen Island, a small island off of West Vancouver. The island has always had a strong connection to rugby via Rockridge Secondary School in West Van, where many Bowen residents go for High School. The Bowen Island Community School was interested in starting that connection even earlier and reached out to BC Rugby to deliver Rookie Rugby to 15 classes. Over the course of two days, in excess of 300 girls and boys took part in Rookie Rugby sessions. As a result of the enthusiastic reception of the kids, plans are now underway to do a further single day camp as well as a 4-week program. Long term, the hope is that Bowen Island will be able to run their own rugby programs with teams travelling to Capilano RFC in North Vancouver to play in the Fall of 2019.
The next sessions took us much further north in BC, to Prince Rupert, which lies 145km from the closest town of Terrace. Despite their location, there is a long tradition of rugby in the area and the local rugby club is keen on developing the sport at elementary school age. The Prince Rupert Seamen Rugby Club collaborated with BC Rugby to host a two-and-a-half-day delivery of Rookie Rugby in four of their schools, involving a total of 325 children. A highlight of this trip came near the end when a 5-year-old from Metlakatla pleaded to his kindergarten group “Guys, when we get to high school are you all interested in learning how to tackle so we can play rugby together?”
Prince Rupert has been running a High School rugby program for a while and saw this delivery to elementary age pupils as a chance to build a solid foundation of through awareness and early engagement. Indeed, this High School program has experienced recent success, with community members playing club rugby at the Senior level in the Lower Mainland as well as having the opportunity to travel to Paris on tour. A fine example of the global network that rugby can open up to individuals, regardless of where they are from.
Much of the recent boom in popularity in rugby in BC can be attributed to the excitement of the HSBC Canada Sevens that will return to Vancouver for the fourth time this March. This mainstream exposure has brought the sport to the attention of many new households across the Province and the Rookie Rugby sessions BC Rugby can offer are a great way to bring the sport off the screen and into daily life. Using this non-contact variation of the sport helps to dispel myths and bring teachers and schools on board for introducing rugby at younger ages.
This year, BC Rugby is working with a number of schools to host an elementary school flag jamboree in Vancouver on May 5th. The Community School Visits program, put on by HSBC Canada Sevens, has sparked even greater interest in offering flag rugby as an in school/after school program from education centres across Vancouver and the North Shore. Rugby Development Officer, Thomas Vijoen, is already working with a number of schools in Vancouver who are now going into their 2nd year of running flag rugby. Collingwood and Mulgrave are just two examples of schools now offering flag based programs at the Elementary school age. They even hosted their own mini jamborees last year and are looking for increased engagements from neighbouring schools in 2019 and beyond.
These are just a few examples of communities that are growing the game and BC Rugby is delighted to have been part of the collaboration. Rugby Development Officers at BC Rugby are always eager to support the introduction or expansion of a rugby program into new areas and can help you ensure your sessions create long term value. If you are interested in bringing Rookie Rugby to a school or an area, please reach out to your Rugby Development Officer for more information.