The growing interest in youth rugby—both across the U.S. and locally with the Pelham Rugby Club’s own program—sees more children than ever taking to the field. The Pelham Rugby Club’s 2013 spring season has its largest team rosters to-date from elementary right up to the U15 tackle team. Because of this, the elementary team was able to field two teams of seven (with alternates) at Sunday’s Chelsea Waterside Park Tournament hosted by Play Rugby USA.
The well-orchestrated event has evolved each season, focusing on continually fine-tuning logistics: queueing up teams, keeping teams playing on single fields throughout the day, etc. All of this translates into more game time for the young players.
It was a beautiful day along the Hudson River for Pelham. The weather was terrific, the young players performed well during all of their matches and parents spread out on blankets to meet new folks and reconnect with familiar faces. The Pelham players were up against some old rivals, as well as new teams. All the teams participating in the tournament played well. As a policy, Play Rugby USA—focused on the athleticism and tenets of sportsmanship that the program stands for—does not tally game scores. That having been said, had scores been kept, the two Pelham teams won most of the day’s matches across a total of the nine games played.
The Pelham elementary school team spans grades 2-5. Within this broad age range are players of differing shapes, sizes and genders, as well as skill sets. It was great watching them work together, spreading out across the field more, forming “brick wall” lines and learning to look for open teammates for passes. Every player participated in every game and, as such, contributed to the teams’ wins (which weren’t actually wins because we weren’t really keeping score, even though we kinda sorta were) of the day. While this is a flag tournament—as all practices and games are at the elementary school level—one could see that some players were already anxious for the more physical tackle games. The Pelham teams, overall, did not shy away from running into the thick of things on offense, nor avoid chasing down opponents when on defense. With the exception of a wayward foot along a sideline now and then, and the subsequent call by the ref, there were virtually no errors. This speaks volumes to the players’ growing skills from their twice-weekly practices and, of course, to the efforts of the program’s professional coaching staff.