Much to my delight and Beth’s dismay, Lucas has a new favorite toy. He loves Daddy’s regulation-sized rugby ball. And he knows what to do with it – he either tosses it to me (need to teach him not to throw it forward!) or holds on to it and runs into me. That’s my boy (sniffs, reaches for tissue)! As a fan and (for a brief, very brief time) player, part of me would love to see him play. As a dad, however, there’s a bit of hesitation.
Youth rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. This article (yeah, it’s a couple of years old, I’m lazy, sue me), this article, and this article (again, old, sue me) highlight some of the myths and misconceptions that revolve around the sport. From personal experience, I can tell you that a good rugby program teaches players of all ages (even 30-something guys like myself) safe methods of play – unlike American football, ruggers are not allowed to block or “hit”; tackles are performed by wrapping up the opposing player, in a manner more closely resembling wrestling (amateur, not WWF); as a result, injuries are far less common than one might think, and many studies indicate that football players average more injuries than their rugby-playing counterparts. Kids’ leagues are tag- or flag-style, and tackling typically is not allowed until players reach high school age. It’s a sport that players of all ages, shapes and sizes can play, and it’s fantastic exercise – play is continuous, much like soccer, which means lots of running.
Of course, we have a few years before the debate in our household really takes shape. And if rugby is ruled out, there’s always lacrosse. Dare to be different, says I.