The Sarnia Saints Rugby Club wants to increase its grassroots base by changing the perception the sport is risky and unsafe.
“I’ve heard all of that” says Saints women’s roster player Lauren Wilks. Some say the sport leads to injuries, including concussions, due to a lack of equipment.
Wilks, a Wyoming resident, says a pair of all-day clinics for high school players and coaches scheduled for April 9 and 10 at Norm Perry Park in Sarnia will emphasize the basics of the game, including player safety.
“Before they let you on the pitch you learn how to tackle and more importantly how to be tackled,” says the two-time national women’s champion with St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia who will continue her collegiate career at Brock University in St. Catherine’s in September. “I think that safety is a really big part of the game,” she added.
A similar event last year, held over two days at Norm Perry Park, attracted nearly 400 players.
The Saints will also introduce a clinic for elementary school children this season. They will tentatively begin in the third week of May and continue through mid-July each Saturday morning from 10-11 am.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for them (kids) to enter a low-cost sport,” says Saints volunteer Michael Smith, who plans to enroll his own three and five-year old children in the program. “It’s all about learning the ABC’s of rugby which are agility, balance, coordination and speed and once you’ve learned those skills, they are transferable to other sports.”
He says the clinic will not include any physical contact.
“That a key point that parents need to know. It’s all about running and passing and enjoying the game.”