Rugby is a very popular sport, played in hundreds of clubs across the UK every weekend from September to the end of April. Events like the World Cup, Six Nations competition and European Rugby Champions Cup attract millions of viewers.
As a contact sport, rugby does have its detractors, including doctors, who worry about the physical impact the game has, especially on children. It’s these concerns which may explain why rugby appears far less regularly on the school sports timetable than other sports like football and tennis. It does require specific training and knowledge, which is why most rugby is played at weekends at grassroots clubs all over the country.
The governing body, the RFU, constantly monitors and reassesses its guidelines in order to make the sport as safe as possible, and these rules are applied to every single level of rugby, from the under fives in the micros section to the professional senior game.
The Kids First rugby programme
With this in mind, at the beginning of the current season, the RFU introduced the Kids First programme for the under 7 to the under 13 age groups, as part of the RFU’s Age Grade Rugby. According to the RFU, clubs that are participating in the Age Grade Rugby and Kids’ First programmes are committing to making rugby fun and inclusive, by ensuring that all children are included, regardless of skill, developing confidence and helping champion rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship.
Club involvement in the programme is designed to ease parents’ concerns, by keeping children happy and as safe as possible. With any sport, injuries will inevitably happen, but the RFU and the clubs are taking as many precautions as they can to prevent them.
Each age group is taught specific skills, so that full contact elements like tackling and scrum are introduced carefully to minimise any potential injury risks. Online resources such as https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/ are invaluable to coaches, as they allow them to plan training sessions and make sure any new rugby drill is tailored to each targeted age group.
Varying sessions and drills help the kids develop the broad range of skills and techniques needed for the game, and help promote the RFU’s key aim, which is to keep rugby fun and inclusive and safe.