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Rugby is a dynamic contact sport played in over 100 countries worldwide. Its popularity transcends gender, racial, religious and class differences and provides unique opportunities for players to forge international and intersocietal friendships. And while rugby is the fastest growing sport in the United States, we still hear this question a lot: "Why rugby?"
The question is simple but the answer is much more complex -- and difficult to put into words. Once you've played, you quickly understand that rugby is not a game: it is a way of life that affects everything both on and off the pitch (a.k.a. the "field" in other sports). It's just different.
People play rugby precisely because it is not football, and it is not soccer. In fact, it's not like any other sport. Rugby teaches sportsmanship, fairness, and how to respect and create a community with opponents in unique ways. For example, if our opposing team doesn't have enough players for a match, we "lend" them some of our players... because playing the game is more important than winning. And here's one thing you won't usually see at soccer, baseball or basketball games: After each match, the hosting team prepares and serves a meal for the visiting team and their families. This gives players and spectators a chance to talk and get to know one another. This unique practice extends the rugby family beyond the team to the whole league.
Rugby also teaches teamwork at a level beyond other team sports. Given the rules of the game, there is no way to play rugby but as a tight, cohesive group. A rugby team also requires a variety of body types and skill sets to play different positions, so everyone has a place regardless of size, weight, speed, or previous sports experience. The bottom line is that we welcome all new team members and include everyone. We take pride in our team, rely on one another and understand that each player has a part to play.
Mutual respect is a cornerstone of the rugby experience, and not only with respect to our own team members and our coaches. Rugby teaches mutual respect for opposing teams and for match officials and supporters. Competitive, adversarial and argumentative behaviors displayed and accepted in other sports are simply not tolerated at a rugby practice or match.
But mostly, rugby is about the fun. We try to help players enjoy training and playing at all levels. We're all part of the rugby family and are here to help every player grow, thrive and enjoy each rugby moment.
In spite of being the fastest growing sport in the United States, rugby still has a reputation for being “dangerous” in the United States. However, according to recent insurance industry statistics (click here - then scroll down to the table for sports injury statistics), there are fewer injuries in rugby than there are in other team sports including basketball, football, soccer, and lacrosse. In fact, there are fewer rugby injuries than in cheerleading, tennis, bowling and even fishing. The medical community agrees: JAMA Pediatrics published a study in which they determined that "studies that have directly compared rates of injury in rugby with rates of injury in other contact sports such as football or ice hockey have indicated that rugby is as safe as or safer than other contact sports."
Lyle J. Micheli, MD, past president of the American College of Sports Medicine explains why rugby is safer than American football (the sport to which rugby is most commonly compared here in the U.S.):
The main reason rugby players have a relatively low risk of injury compared to football players is paradoxical – rugby players don’t wear protective equipment. Thus the rugby player doesn’t have the same disregard for the safety of his or her head, neck, and shoulders when tackling or trying to break through a tackle. The other reason is that unlike football, rugby is a game of possession, not yardage. Consequently, rugby players don’t tackle by “driving the numbers,” as football players are taught to do with their heads when tackling a player. In rugby, players are taught to use their arms to wrap a player’s legs and let the momentum of that player cause him to go to ground. Furthermore, in rugby, there is no blocking, and so players who don’t have the ball don’t get hit when they’re not expecting it.
Furthermore, while the bumps, bruises, and scrapes you see on the elbows, knees, and faces of many rugby players can appear alarming, they are of considerably less concern than the anterior cruciate ligament ruptures, finger fractures and dislocations, and chest contusions characteristic of a sport such as football in which heavy protective equipment is worn.
Read more on the subject of the relative safety of rugby in this article by Lyle J. Micheli, MD (Past President of the American College of Sports Medicine): click here
Player safety remains paramount at Santa Barbara Youth Rugby. The SB Youth Rugby coaching methodology is designed to minimize risks by teaching correct techniques in all contact situations. All our coaches are certified by USA Rugby at Level 200 (Contact Rugby) or above before they can coach contact rugby. For more information, see Our Coaches.
Launched at the start of the 2015-16 competitive year, SCYR’s Player Welfare Program (PWP) is an innovative approach to providing critical and on-going safety benefits to the youth and high school rugby players of Southern California. This comprehensive and unique program includes four critical, integrated benefits:
We have created Information Pages for Parents/Guardians and for Coaches & Administrators to share critical details of the program that can be found on the SCYR website. these!
Note: Our Medical Advisory Board assists in training routines, injury protocols, and trains all staff associated with the Stingrays. They all are top-notch experts in their respective fields and volunteer their time to make sure we have the safest, most up-to-date information and resources available to support our youth.
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