On Feb. 4, Delta’s Britannia Lions Rugby Club is inviting aspiring rugby players to come try New Zealand’s most popular sport.
The day, appropriately named Try Rugby Day, is a chance for kids ages five to 14 to experience the game in a controlled setting. For Allen Pruden, the Brit-Lions mini rugby coordinator, it’s also a chance to invite people without any rugby experience to get involved in the sport.
“It’s always been always a sport of the other club members and their kids,” Pruden said. “We all sort of push our kids to play the sports that we play, or at least get them interested in it.
“But with Try Rugby, we’re opening it up to the whole community and getting them to … realize that rugby is not this sport of barbarians smashing into each other. It’s actually a really fun, really family oriented game.”
The Brit-Lions club has made an effort to make rugby more accessible to kids, implementing a rookie rugby program for kids ages three to six (it runs out of North Delta Recreation Centre and is played in much the same way as flag football) and a mini-rugby program for kids up to 14. Tackling isn’t introduced until the players reach Grade 4.
But although Pruden believes rugby isn’t a barbarian sport, there is still a chance for injury. This is why the BC Rugby Association has provided all local clubs with insurance to cover all players on Try Rugby Day.
This is the second year the Brit-Lions have done a open practice for kids. Last spring, between 70 and 80 players showed up. This year, Pruden is hoping for more.
“It’s a way of … getting kids into the sport and hopefully carrying through into their adult years, and even beyond into their senior years,” he said. “It just builds up the family nature of the sport.”
Try Rugby Day, which will take place at John Oliver Park off Ladner Trunk Road from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 4, is open to the public without registration. Lunch costs $5, with proceeds going to the Brit-Lions youth programs. All interested players need to do is show up and sign up on the day, allowing them to be covered by BC Rugby’s insurance.