Rugby clinic on Daniel Island helps introduce sport to youth
On Saturday, June 25, the members of Charleston Youth Rugby put on a clinic to inform young athletes about the worldwide sport of Rugby Union, commonly referred to simply as rugby. Rugby is a sport that was born from soccer and inspired by basketball and football. The main objective of the clinic was to teach kids to enjoy the game and their fellow participants, and to learn basic skills like passing, running, and learning to communicate while playing.
The clinic was organized by Mr. Jeff Pace, whose two daughters participated. He organized the clinic because his daughters were interested in both field hockey and rugby. (There was a field hockey clinic already that had 35 girls participate in it, so his next step was a rugby clinic.)
Mr. Pace explained that this is a perfect time to do the clinic, as the Rio 2016 Olympics are just around the corner. Interest is high now as well because both the Wando and Bishop England High School teams won state championships either this year. With around 200 former players living within the Charleston area, Mr. Pace believes that this could be the next sport brought to the area, and the next professional sport played on the island and surrounding areas.
The clinic had around 14 participants, both boys and girls 6½ to 14 years of age, who were all eager to learn about the different aspects of the game. The clinic taught basic skills of the game with flags, instead of tackling, due to the young ages of the participants. The sponsor of the event was Bishop England Rugby Club, which provided equipment, jerseys, and flags to use with drills and better the experience.
Former Clemson coach Jim Gaines was the head coach for the day and organized skills and drills for the kids. There were other former coaches from around the world who participated in the activities as well. Mr. Gaines was a very well-known coach at Clemson University who got into rugby while studying there. He has always loved the sport and wanted to share his experiences with the young athletes of today to express what the sport has provided him the opportunity to experience:
“The team (at Clemson) was welcoming and helped me excel at the sport. Traveling around the world and making friends from many countries and backgrounds has provided me a great understanding of this worldwide game.”
Mr. Gaines was also selected to coach the Collegiate All-Americans in 2004, where he had the honor to coach young men who eventually represented the USA in the Rugby World Cup. He is very knowledgeable and wants to pass it on to the children of the Charleston area.
Considering the little promotion that went into the camp, it was a great turn-out with all kids walking away with smiles, despite the almost triple figure heat. The next clinic will be held in Mount Pleasant over the Christmas break. Organizers hope to hold more through January and February. The end goal is to start a league of different age groups and town teams competing against each other, learning and growing in the sport.