The pleasant environment of junior rugby is what we have seen in the past t few weeks. That is from the nasty scene of name calling, insinuations, court action, hooliganism, etc. During the last month there were under 10 and under 12 rugby games playedfirst at Bambalapitiya and last week at the Royal Complex.
The first was organized by St Peter’s and the second by St Joseph’s. I understand the next will be organized by S. Thomas’ Mount or Zahira College. What I was made to understand is that different schools will take on the responsibility each year.
Pioneers in organizing the event for junior in this fashion were Wesley and D.S Senanayake who participated this year. Fondly called super twelve’s due to the involvement of twelve teams the games gave the opportunity for players at under 12 and 10 to get the feeling. Royal College with four teams in last week’s games showed that there is and there will be a following for the game at the school. The most important to the game at these levels were the spirit which was displayed by players, coaches and the spectators. What will be good is for others to cluster and organize similar events. This will give more and more opportunities for those lying at the mini and midi levels.
What is important in the Game Plan for mini games is a simple “have FUN, have FUN and then have more FUN”. The primary function of mini-rugby should be to try and instill a lifelong love of the sport that will see the youngsters wanting to come back week in week out to enjoy a lifetime of involvement in rugby. It is in this sense that the clustering of a few schools and playing without the strain of win at all cost made the junior enjoy the game more. Not seen was the over competitive nature and the tendency to play unwanted rugby. While parents and supporters were enthusiastic there was no over competitive attitude that would have lead to disrespect. Parents and supporters became part of the excitement through positive encouragement and not overzealous, shouting at the referee every time the favorite son was tackled.
I would suggest at the lowest age groups to play with no scores kept and everybody plays a game or two. Nobody is kept out and that includes the reserves getting also getting a chance. Use the money that you would spend on trophies to give the boys an opportunity to have more fun. While you are committed to rugby the focus should be on having fun, to see so many people taking part and the mix of the young. The most important thing is to host a community event where players and spectators could enjoy the true spirit of rugby.
This is also an opportunity for old boys and parents to get involved in helping the organization. It could be a time for senior players, parents and or old boys to take the whistle. Out of the lot you may be able to find a referee emerging or a good tournament organizer coming up. At this point what is Important is to keep things simple as far as the game goes. It should be very simple. Use basic core skills that are learnt and improve through games.
Young players love to play games that are the attraction of the sport. Such games should be to improve and help in the understanding the expectation and for kids to enjoy. Boys turn up to play and enjoy, so let them. Don’t pervert their mind and through it the game. Let them learn experientially, let them develop from an early age the ability to make decisions and adapt skills and techniques to the situations they find in the game. Over all let them enjoy the game and the ethos of rugby as expected in the playing charter.
What is important is that they learn that team work is an essential part of the game. They understand that each one has a role to play and that includes the coach and the referee. Where we learn to have mutual respect for each other and that we respect our opponents as well as their supporters so that they enjoy the game. That rugby is a physical sport played in a controlled manner within the laws of the game. We are honest and fair. And don’t condone unfair play. We obey the laws which ensure an exciting game. That players support the disciplinary system, which protects our sport and upholds its values.
Sportsmanship is the foundation upon which rugby is built. It is important that players uphold the rugby tradition of camaraderie with teammates and opposition. They observe fair play both on and off the pitch and are generous in victory and dignified in defeat. That they play to win but not at all costs. Here is where we start on rugby being what it should be “the education and care”. To develop all round individuals who are supportive and valued members of the community.
*Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB