by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
During the last 4 years USA Rugby have developed a strong Youth and High School Department, the goal was to develop a foundation for the game. Yes, I have been banging on about the need for a strong foundation for the game for some time. My reason's are simple, USA Rugby was founded in 1975, there was no real focus on youth development, as a result, in 2006 we were still hoping a few cross over stud athletes would become disenfranchised from their sports, start playing rugby and give the All Blacks a good seeing to...well it didn't happen - Dan Carter didn't pick up a rugby ball for the first time when he was 19, he's been playing since he was 6 years old. I guess Peyton Manning started dominating football games around the same time in his life!
Yes, there will always be athletes that come late to the game, but these will be the exception, not the rule. The All American pathway - 16-23 years is developing steadily with more All Americans in the 2011 Rugby World Cup squad than in 2007.
As the pathway continues to develop, the athlete pool from which we select is growing, and competition for places becoming more intense. As a result the quality of our teams improves.
If this process is to be successful, our youth programs have to be strong. This is where the Rookie Rugby program is so important, it creates awareness, lets kids try the game for the first time, its non-contact (initially), played by boys and girls, easy to coach, cheap to resource and adaptable. Add to that strong healthy eating/exercise messaging, teamwork, leadership and respect...need I say more..
This week I wanted to share with you a program we have been running in Greensboro, North Carolina. The program was started by Pat Kane, the Wake Forest Rugby Coach and former USA Rugby Congress member. Pat talked to the local education department about Rookie Rugby, the USA Rugby Youth and High School Department supported him in his work and this week over 200 Middle School coaches were trained as Rookie Rugby Coaches. The impact of this training is that 3 School regions in North Carolina will now be playing Rookie Rugby in their schools this fall. The program outreach is somewhere in the region of 350,000 kids...
OK, so they won't all become the next Dan Carter, but we only need one of those! I remember talking to the Manchester United coaching team about player development, they were reaching out to 1,000's of kids each year through their soccer schools program. 'Open enough oysters and you'll find a pearl' was their philosophy, David Beckham, Paul Scholls, the Neville brothers,Ryan Giggs - say no more..
Here's a snapshot of the USA Rugby Youth and High School team in action yesterday....well done to all for making this happen....
For further details of our youth and high school outreach programs contact firstname.lastname@example.org
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
CLICK HERE to read more on Nigel Melville
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