Rugby Culture And A Region Unparalleled
Editors note: This is the fourth and final installment to a four-part series. Parts 1-3 can be found beginning with our January issue. All four articles are also available at sportstarsmag.com
In this, our final installment of this series, we will be spotlighting some of our local clubs, tournaments and what rugby culture is all about.
One of the great things about our sport is the culture and “family” that comes with it. If you have played the game, you can go almost anywhere in the world, mention that you played and love the sport, and more likely than not, you will make an immediate connection with many fellow ruggers who will treat you like family.
At Rugby NorCal, we are trying to bring that culture to our programs and to the sport in general throughout the United States. As a global game that is only just finding its footing in the U.S., some of these great traditions in our game have been forgotten. For example, in almost any other country, each rugby club owns their own clubhouse and fields. At the end of every match, the players and parents retire to the clubhouse to get some food, drink and socialize.
There is usually a Player of the Match from each team awarded, and everyone goes home having made new friends and feeling good, win, lose or draw. While we may not all have our own facilities here in the U.S., the tradition continues at Rugby NorCal.
All our teams have the opportunity to host home matches at the various age levels. After each match day, the host team also hosts a meal which can consist of a parent-led BBQ, sandwiches, pizza, etc., but everyone gathers and socializes with the opposition after the game is done. Player of the Match awards are given out, and coaches give speeches reinforcing rugby’s values and on what it means to be a steward of the game. This is the culture that is unique to our sport; it has no equivalent, and we want to share it with whoever will take the leap of faith to come try the best sport in the world with us.
The Rugby NorCal 15-a-side season is winding down for the Youth and Middle School divisions. We had our U8 end-of-year Jamboree that was very well attended on March 4; our U10 Jamboree is March 11, and U12 Jamboree happens March 18th. Middle School wraps up with Boys and Girls Championships at Hall Park in Dixon on March 25th.
March represents the half-way point to our High School season, which has been one of the most contested seasons to date. In the Boys Varsity Premier Division, it is wide open with two teams, Jesuit and Granite Bay, remaining undefeated. Girls Varsity is going to be very interesting this year with four powerhouses, Amazons, Land Park, Danville and Pleasanton battling it out for No. 1.
At Boys Division 1 & 2, Elsie Allen and De La Salle seem to be the teams to beat this year, although Sac PAL, San Joaquin and Chico may have something to say about that. On the Junior Varsity side of things, in the Premier Division, Lamorinda and Peninsula Green lead the way, and in Boys Division 1 and 2, Sac PAL and Bellarmine are in the top spots for now.
All this culminates in our High School Championships, which are set for May 6 at the Stockton Soccer Complex in Stockton. It is sure to be an amazing day of rugby, and we encourage anyone to come and enjoy it with us.
Over the Summer, Rugby NorCal hosts a robust Summer Sevens Series, the abbreviated version of the game, played on a full-size field, but for only seven minute halves, and with only seven players per team. This series is a lot of fun, and tournaments are hosted almost every weekend throughout the region, culminating in championships hosted in Dixon on July 30. For players new to the game, 7s is perhaps the best entry point into the sport as there is far less contact, with an emphasis placed on skill and evasiveness.
For more information on clubs in your area who participate in the Summer Sevens Series and how to get involved, please contact the Rugby NorCal office.
Rugby in Northern California has always been a hotbed of rugby. In fact, Northern California as a region has produced more international players on both the National Men’s and Women’s teams than any other region in the United States. Of our local Clubs, Jesuit and Peninsula Green have produced the most capped Eagles (USA Rugby National Mascot) in our region on the Men’s side, and Mother Lode and the Sacramento Amazons have produced the most recent Eagles on the Women’s side.
Since 2008, NorCal has produced eight National Champions (Granite Bay – 2016 Boys Club; Sacramento Amazons – 2016 and 2010 Girls High School Nationals; Jesuit – 2013, 2011, 2009 and 2008 Boys Single School National Championships; Dixon – 2012 Boys Single School). It should be noted that the High School National Championships have been “Invitational” tournaments since 2013 when USA Rugby pulled funding and administrative support for the tournaments in favor of regional “all-star” tournaments instead.
With our continued commitment to enhancing the rugby experience for our members through additional coach and referee education, advanced skill sessions for players, and partnering with local rugby academies who can help further develop our players and coaches, it is clear that Rugby NorCal will continue to produce some of the country’s best rugby players and future Eagles for years to come.
For more information on how to get involved, contact Mark Carney at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rugbynorcal.org
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