Pelham Rugby starts second year: a parent’s view

Pelham Rugby Club is about to begin its second year and is adding tackle to its offerings. Last year, with the help of Play Rugby USA, Pelham was succesful in getting flag rugby introduced as a town-sponsored recreational sport. Receiving the full support from the Town of Pelham also helped get flag rugby included in the physical education program in the Pelham school district.

Instead of trying to describe what rugby has meant to the kids and parents, here’s an email one parent sent to another regarding her child’s participation in rugby last year.

“I can’t tell what ages your daughters are, but just to tell you a little about my daughter Maddie’s experience: She’s in sixth grade now; last year she played as a fifth grader. She began playing during the spring season, on the night of the event at Glover Field (a free open participation night called “Rugby Night in Pelham”), which included a number of teams from the tri-state area. We had gone to watch my son play, and after a few minutes of watching (I am NOT exaggerating), she asked if she could play. I told her she would need to ask Mr. Kleinberger (one of the co- founders). She didn’t know him from Adam; he had never seen or heard of her from what I can tell, and I figured he’d let her down easy and tell her to come to practice and blah blah blah.

Not the case. Tom (Klienberger) explained the game to her — quickly! — and she was in. And she was off.  She played that night, the rest of the season and as Matt (Persanis) mentioned, she was on the team that  won in the Mayor’s Cup in the spring.  She loves it, and plans to play again this spring.

We think it’s a great club sport for a number of reasons:

  • It’s FUN!  to watch, and to play!  (Great preparation for college, but that’s another story.)
  • It’s great conditioning for the kids (run, throw, run, run some more, run the other way, pull a flag, run some more), which is so important today, especially if they play any other sports. The benefits of cross training are well documented.
  • It really is a team sport, so the kids have to work together. Nice for kids that are sometimes intimidated by team sports
  • It’s a sport where the playing field is pretty even: I’ve seen kids of all levels of fitness and coordination play — you’re not limited by size, speed or grace. Trust me. And since it’s still pretty new, everyone’s at the same relative place on the learning curve
  • The kids get to mix it up with kids they might not otherwise play organized sports with— which is a really nice aspect of the game

Maddie is ‘petite’ to say the least, and i don’t think that bothers her playing rugby. Speed and agility come into play more than size in her case, and I would imagine that might be the case for your daughters as well.

Finally, my experience with this group  has been nothing but positive. Matt, Tom and Christian (Mayo, Play Rugby USA’s director) have really done an excellent job. The kids are learning the sport and having fun, and they go way out of their way to keep the parents aware and involved. They treat the kids with respect and are quick to respond to any questions or concerns you might ever have. They bring a real love for the sport to the table, and they all actually play the game, so they bring that enthusiasm and excitement with them to the field.”

Pelham’s season starts the first week of April and the club will be running flag rugby and tackle programs for first through eighth graders. The plan is to eventually introduce rugby as a varsity high school sport.