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Home > Clerc Center > Play Rugby USA Introduces KDES Students to the Sport

Play Rugby USA Introduces KDES Students to the Sport

Play Rugby USA hosted a group of Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) students on December 7 to celebrate the launch of the film Invictus, about the South African rugby team, and to introduce the students to the indoor version of rugby called "flag rugby." Invictus tells the story of how Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African president, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: he enlists the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

"Anyone can play flag rugby," said Mike Vasti, volunteer rugby coach at Georgetown University, to the KDES students. "It's a safe, non-contact sport with no blocking. It's a great introduction to the sport." Vasti showed a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the game, including the fact that American football originally developed from rugby. He enlisted the help of some volunteers to demonstrate how to grab the flag from an opponent and how to score a "try" (touching the ball to the ground in the "in-goal" area to score five points).

KDES students, both boys and girls, enjoyed working drills and practice plays with volunteers from Play Rugby USA. The volunteers showed the students some of the basic playing strategies of the game, and after doing some practice drills the students tried out their new skills playing Rookie Rugby games.

"We are really excited about introducing the great sport of rugby to our schools. The MSSD rugby team will start its second season this year. This Play Rugby USA clinic is a great way to introduce our KDES middle school students to the game," said Clerc Center athletic director Mark Burke. "Some of our MSSD rugby team members and players from our partner school, Hyde Leadership Public Charter School, came out to support our KDES students."

Many talented volunteers lent their time and expertise to this event, including Andrew Kremser, youth manager for Play Rugby USA; Vasti; other Play Rugby USA volunteers; and some members of the Model Secondary School for the Deaf and the Hyde Leadership Public Charter School rugby teams. Clerc Center athletic staff Mark Burke, Nanette Virnig, and Steve Doleac also participated in the event.

The atmosphere was infectious as the students picked up on the enthusiasm of the volunteers for the game. Rugby is a sport that in the U.S. is run by community volunteers. "We think of rugby as a give back culture," said Vasti. "Rugby demands a high level of hard teamwork, and that sense of responsibility carries over to home and school."

At the end of the event, Play Rugby USA shared information about the plot of Invictus and gave out movie posters and USA Rugby stickers to the students.

Thank you to all who made this a successful event.

Play Rugby USA is a national youth development program ("The Program") pioneering the development of youth through rugby. Supported by a growing network of employees, affiliates, and reps, the program provides children with a fun, unique, and inspirational educational experience through the innovative coaching of rugby. The Program helps children develop character, athletic ability, fitness, and academic commitment, giving them the tools they need to succeed in life.

Play Rugby USA info

Info on Invictus