325 young rugby athletes participated last weekend in Week One of Central Okanagan spring touch rugby programs at the Parkinson Rec Centre. This is a 39% jump in enrollments over 2017. 333 boys and girls in 16 local elementary schools are also getting ready for their first week of touch rugby play; league play begins this Wednesday. This rapid growth has not surprised local touch rugby enthusiasts.
"Touch rugby is an inclusive game that anyone can play at any age," said Derek Worrall, program coordinator for touch rugby with the Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts (CORE). "It offers our young players a place to develop individual innovation/decision-making skills and teamwork skills, while getting a great run and having a lot of fun."
Touch rugby for Central Okanagan youth is delivered in three different types of programs.
(1) Mini-Rugby - provides 60 minutes of running, passing/catching, and minor games play every Sunday for 4 - 7 year old boys and girls.
(2) Beginners Touch Sevens - provides two beginner's touch games, general skills practice, and team practice each week as grade 2 and 3 students have fun developing new skills for elusive running, passing to space, team attack, and team defence.
(3) Touch Sevens - provides two touch sevens games, general skills practice, and team practice each week as grades 4 - 7 players have fun advancing their fitness and touch rugby skills.
"We are very excited for the expansion of our sport for our community's youth," said Worrall. "We look forward to supporting our young athletes as they build character playing what we believe is the greatest sport in the world."
"Touch rugby must be one of the fastest growing sports in our region," said Doug Manning, CORE President and one of dozens of local volunteers that help operate local touch rugby programs. "More than 800 kids and adults, men and women, will play touch in 2018 in the Central Okanagan. It is an excellent skill and character development game that benefits all sports, not just rugby itself."