HIP HIP HOORAY FOR SPORT'S MAINSTAY: THE OVAL BALL
Mums, there's no need to worry. If rugby has always struck you as a "rough" sport, nothing could be further from the truth! Mini rugby is a discipline that has been specially designed for our little ones. It is an outdoor activity which helps to develop motor, creative and interpersonal skills as well as cognitive functions, without any danger, especially since competitive matches don't start until the age of 12 years. First off: boys or girls who start playing this sport do not need to have any physical characteristics in particular: this is because it truly is for everyone; the main objective is involvement, achieved through learning and participation. Rugby is a contact sport and mini rugby also includes some rules older players must abide by, for example tackling (not head on), as well as pushing during scrums, one of this wonderful sport's greatest actions. Coaches take care of all this and more. They're ready to teach children the ins and outs of all these moves, including how to try, line-out, and how to dust yourself off after a fall without any fuss.
WHAT ABOUT RULES FOR BIGGER PLAYERS?
Mini rugby is based on rules that have been specifically designed for children, but competitive matches are played out on pitches according to all the rules of the sport. Let's take a closer look at what these are:
the pitch: similar in size to a football pitch, with 5 fundamental separation lines (the half-way line, two try lines and two “22-metre lines”), as well as the famous H shaped goal post in case of drop goals or penalty kicks;
duration: a rugby match lasts 80 minutes and is divided into two halves.
players: there are two kinds of rugby, although the 15 a-side variety is the most practiced;
play: what makes rugby such a special sport is that in order to go forwards, you must pass the ball backwards! This means that it is even more difficult to score a try, the main objective of both teams. Other actions of the game include the scrum and line-out. During the former, 8 players per team push their opponents to conquer the oval ball. Usually, during the latter action, one player per team is lifted so that they can grab the ball.
scores: one try is worth 5 points and if "transformed", can even earn 7 points. A drop and penalty kick are both worth 3 points. Unlike other sports, such as basketball or volleyball, where matches conclude with a winner, rugby matches may conclude in a draw.
For further information on the rules of rugby, please consult the website of the Italian Rugby Federation.
THE THIRD HALF: THE TRUE VALUE OF RUGBY
If you have ever come across a Six Nations match on TV, the most important rugby tournament in the world (each year it takes place in February and March), without a doubt you will have noticed how players shake hands and hug the opposition once the match is over. This post-match socialisation is commonly referred to as the the "third half", and is one of the sport's fundamental moments. How is it possible that one of the most important elements of this sport takes place after the match? If there is one thing that makes rugby the perfect sport for young and old players, it is this culture of respect for the opposition. As explained by The Italian Rugby Federation, the third time "Starts when the referee blows the whistle which concludes the match. From that moment, both teams, previously intent on challenging each other with grit and determination on the field, put aside their rivalry and engage in a moment of shared socialisation". Let us not forget about the importance of you, the parents: another great thing about rugby is that is gives family members the chance to stand by their children, to help them understand just how interesting and fun mutual respect and sport can be.
RUGBY PLAYERS, SPORTS HEROES
Just like any other sport, rugby also has its own heroes, players who have made history in this ancient discipline. For example we have Jonah Lomu, the New Zealand star, renowned for his legendary tries (like thisone in 1995 against England), considered to be the strongest rugby player of all time, or the English player Jonny Wilkinson, world champion with England in 2003, or the Italian Sergio Parisse, currently one of the most important players at international level. All it takes is a few quick searches online to discover that not only is rugby safe and educational, but it is also a sport where human values play a decisive role for raising our children. So what are you waiting for, enrol your little ones at your local mini rugby club!