Rugby club offers summer skills clinics

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Thanks to an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant and some dedicated local coaches, the Kent Havoc Rugby Football Club is holding free rugby clinics this summer.

And depending on the public’s interest, Havoc spokesman Laverne Hanley said the club could also offer a summer league.

The target group is youth.

“Kent Havoc is pleased to announce that we are offering the youth of our community an affordable opportunity to safely learn the game of rugby from certified coaches during July and August,” Paul Mooney, head coach of the Havoc, said in a media release.

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The club will host rugby FUNdamental sessions July 5, 12, and 19 for kids and teens from age eight to 18. The clinics will take place at the Havoc pitch, located on Landsdowne Street in Chatham. It used to be the athletic field at the former Chatham Collegiate Institute.

Hanley said registration each day begins at 9:30 a.m., with the clinics running from 10 a.m. to noon. Afterwards there will be a free barbecue lunch for all participants.

“The goal of the free rugby FUNdamentals sessions is to get kids up, out and active by both removing the cost barrier and providing structured training by qualified coaches,” Mooney said in a release. “We want to introduce and expand the game of rugby in a safe, affordable and fun way in the community.”

Hanley said there is no expectation on how many kids will attend the clinics.

“This is really an outreach program. We’re getting the word out at the school age so when they get to high school they’ll be ready to play,” he said.

Hanley said the idea to hold the free clinics came as a result of community interest.

“This is something a lot of people have been asking for, so we’re responding,” he said. “We’ve done clinics in the past, just one or two here and there. We thought we’d put on a three-week free clinic.”

And if there is interest afterwards, Hanley said the Havoc would set up a summer league, which would offer non-contact rugby to teach overall skills to elementary-aged kids, and full contact for high-school-aged teens.

The summer league would run until the end of August, continuing with the Sunday morning routine. Six weeks of play would cost $25 per player.

And the post-game free barbecues would continue as well, Hanley said.

Hanley said there is a misconception that rugby is an overly violent sport.

“Rugby’s gotten a bad rap, but it is a contact sport,” he said. “We manage the game well with proper coaching and training. We spend a lot of time on training.”

He said rugby provides “no equipment; no false sense of security. You have to full-wrap tackle.”

Parents are often surprised that there is a place for children of all sizes on the rugby pitch.

“I think it’s really interesting to see and hear the parents of young girls. The high school program has been running for almost a decade,” he said. “They (parents) realize it is so well managed and so well structured. There’s a spot for any size and shape.”

Larger kids may work inside in the scrums, but fleet-footed athletes are paramount for working the ball to the outside and down the field.

For more information on the summer programs, visit havocrugby.com.

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