15 July 2023
There’s a lot to love about playing rugby. It’s fun, promotes camaraderie and teamwork, and is a great form of exercise. For children, it also offers a chance to learn some vital skills in leadership, resilience, and controlling aggression. There are also some interesting tactics and unique skills involved in rugby, as well as the robust social traditions that come from attending a rugby club. It is, therefore, a great sport for children to try, and one that many go on to love.
The best way to get children into rugby is to join a local rugby club. Most towns in the country have them and it's often easy to join. Clubs have age brackets, for example under 11s, under 13s and so on. Many clubs also run sessions for younger children, which remove the physical contact part of the game but keep everything else, from ball control to the basics of the rules. If your child doesn’t initially want to take part, you can still take them down to watch the local club’s weekend matches as a supporter. Being part of the crowd and the discussion in the clubhouse afterwards is a great way to get your child into the sport.
Before taking the plunge to join a club, you could try taking your child to a taster session or open day. Most clubs or local leisure centres run these and they can be better for new starters as everyone there tends to be new to the sport, as opposed to joining a side of experienced players. Rugby Tots is an organisation who run rugby sessions for very young children in locations around the country, which are ideal for getting your child into rugby at a very young age.
To get into rugby, kids are going to need to know what it is. So show them some matches and talk about what’s going on. Try if you can to see live matches, too. This needn’t be just the big teams. Local clubs, university teams, school matches and amateur teams provide just as exciting and engaging rugby as the big teams. Plus, if children are going to join a local club, it can be good for them to experience rugby played in this setting.
First, beware: rugby is a contact sport and so anything too physical shouldn’t be done without proper coaching. That said, there are plenty of rugby skills you can train for at home, from general fitness, to kicking, catching and throwing. A lot of local parks have rugby posts, or you can use football posts as proxies, to help children get used to the bounce and feel of a ball.
Does your child have a friend of the family who is into rugby? Perhaps you have a friend who also has a child that you can link up with to attend games and chat about the sport? Being part of a community, even if it’s just a couple of you, is great for inspiring an interest. Involve the wider family, too. Your child will get into rugby if they can talk about it and share their experiences with others. Take an uncle or aunt down to the park, or bring them with you to watch a game.