Local rugby organizers are projecting that more than 750 athletes will participate in rugby-related programs this spring. This will be the highest-ever level of spring rugby participation in the Central Okanagan.
550 (73%) of those players will enjoy local spring touch rugby programs, including the Crows mini-rugby program (ages 4 - 7), the community touch rugby programs (ages 8 - 15), and the elementary touch sevens league (ages 9 - 11). 150 (20%) of the athletes will be playing rugby XVs in local schools and clubs, and 50 (7%) will participate in the Olympic sport of rugby sevens.
The increase in numbers is a direct result of an explosion in Central Okanagan touch rugby participation over the past five years. The sport has grown quickly because of its fun, fast, fitness-oriented nature. In addition to the 550 youth playing touch in 2018, an additional 200+ adults are projected to join the 8-week adult Summer Touch League in 2018.
"We're very pleased with the response to our touch rugby leagues for minis, youth, and adults," said Doug Manning, President of the local Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts society. "Players enjoy the pace of the sport, the quality of the workout, and the camaraderie of the game."
Manning says a percentage of touch rugby players, especially those looking for a more physical version of the sport, are finding their way to XVs and sevens programs in schools and local rugby clubs. "After a bit of a slowdown in XVs rugby locally, junior high rugby programs are beginning to see a benefit from the expansion of touch", said Manning. "Even though the majority of touch players never play a contact version of the sport, the base numbers are getting big enough to provide a strong supply of athletes with rugby skills to the schools and clubs XVs programs."
The breakdown of projected Spring 2018 rugby number is as follows:
Mini-Rugby - 150
Community Touch Rugby - 100
Elementary Touch Rugby - 300
Junior Rugby XVs - 75
Senior Rugby XVs - 25
Senior Rugby Sevens - 50
Crows XVs - 25
Vicars O40 XVs - 25
Total Spring 2018 Players - 750
Manning says the mini-rugby and community touch programs fill up fast, so parents are encouraged to sign up for them once the Spring Rec Centre Program Guide comes out in March. All other rugby programs for youth and adults can be accessed through local elementary, middle, and secondary schools, and through local rugby clubs.