Grassroots rugby is sprouting up in Vernon thanks to a new skills program.
Vernon Youth Touch Rugby aims to offer the fundamental passing, running and positional skills used in rugby – in both the league and union forms of the game – in a friendly, non-contact environment.
“It’s absolutely core fundamental skills, no matter what code of rugby you end up playing,” said Iain Scott, who is co-ordinating the program with Gord Cheyne.
The touch rugby program, sponsored by the Vernon Rotary Club, is open to boys and girls ages four to 12. There will be a total of six weekly sessions running Sundays from 10-11 a.m. at Grahame Park starting May 12.
There will be an opening-day registration is at 9:30 a.m., and the cost is $20, which includes snacks and a T-shirt.
Scott, originally from York, England (Northern England is the birthplace of rugby league), said touch rugby is a generic form of the sport enjoyed around the world, adding it is particularly attractive because it is relatively inexpensive compared to other sports.
“There’s no need for a huge financial commitment to play rugby. We take kids in from all backgrounds.”
While rugby league is the lesser known of the two forms of the sport, Scott said it is hugely popular in Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom.
The Rugby League World Cup is being hosted by England and Wales this October and November. Scott said Canada’s national program is still developing, but added they have a good chance to qualify for 2017 worlds.
The next Rugby Union World Cup will be hosted by England, in 2015.
Scott and Cheyne are looking for volunteers to help with registration, set up, supervision and skills coaching. They are also seeking further sponsorship.
For more information, or to volunteer, contact Gordon Cheyne at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 250-938-1162; or Iain Scott at email@example.com, or 250-307-4888.
Meanwhile, the Vernon Panthers remain undefeated in North Zone Grade 8 rugby play after an 18-8 win over host Shuswap Middle School.
Malcolm Wiens scored three tries for the Cats, two of them in the first period to help Vernon jump out to a 10-0 lead. Charis Ondrik converted on the first Panther score.
Shuswap stormed back with two tries of their own with some strong possessions in the second frame, but were unable to boot a convert on either.
Tyler Riva barged in for a try from 10 yards out, and Wiens scored late in the game to secure the win.
VSS takes on the Fulton Maroons Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Grahame Park.