Is the Touch Rugby 2020 Project on Track?
Date: June 28, 2017
In 2014, local businessman Eric Heffernan challenged the Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts to find three quality sponsors to inject funding designed to accelerate development of local touch rugby. At the time, there were around 300 youth and adult males and females enjoying the fast, fun, fitness-oriented sport. As a result of his challenge, the Touch Rugby 2020 Project was born.
The Touch Rugby 2020 Project set a goal of 1000 touch rugby players in the Central Okanagan Rugby Community by the year 2020. Eric offered his company, Code Three Emergency Services, as one of the sponsors, committing to a $3,000 per year contribution for the project. Robin Durrant from Capri Insurance was already a silent sponsor of the youth touch program, so he agreed to have his company match the contribution. Clare Cassan from Columbia Bottle Depots had previously sponsored the development of a touch rugby curriculum for schools; his business sees the value of a touch rugby program for youth. They became our third matching sponsor for the project.
CORE set a budget of $10,000 per year for operation of the various touch rugby programs. Funds are allocated to a 'Ball For Every Player' in the elementary school league, field rentals, insurance, equipment purchases (eg. cones/pinnies), player photographs and t-shirts for mini-rugby and community league youth players, and honorariums to select program coordinators. The adult summer touch program is self-funding.
Has the investment paid off? Is the program on track at its halfway point?
In a word - yes. The results have been impressive. Involvement in touch has more than doubled in three years. Local parents call the Crows Mini-Rugby and Community Touch Sevens programs "the best sports deal in town" because costs are around $30 for eight great weekends of activity. The numbers tell the tale.
2014: 305 (82 mini; 140 elem. touch; 83 adult touch)
2015: 498 (130 mini; 45 touch sevens; 209 elem. touch; 114 adult touch)
2016: 625 (150 minis; 90 touch sevens; 231 elem. touch; 154 adult touch)
2017: 659 (143 minis; 88 touch sevens; 237 elem. touch; 191 adult touch)
However, continued growth over the next three years will be a challenge. The rate of growth slowed in 2017. The only program still growing like a weed is adult touch. New incentives must be determined to reach our 2020 goal of 1000 players. Here are our projected numbers by program.
Mini-Rugby - 180 players (U6/U8) - Very achievable. Primary focus will be on simple program awareness.
Touch Sevens - 220 players (U10/U12/U14/U16) - Toughest challenge. Considering a flag version of the game.
Elem. Touch - 360 players (U12) - Very achievable. Need to find teacher sponsors in 20 schools, parent coaches.
Adult Touch - 240 players - Very achievable. The Rec and Competitive leagues will draw more teams.
It would be a good sign if we could surpass the 800 player mark in 2018. The CORE Board will be addressing this goal at our upcoming summer meetings. Anyone interested in helping is encouraged to contact Doug Manning at firstname.lastname@example.org.