Two HSBC Rookie Rugby Jamborees took place yesterday, March 3, at Vancouver’s Trillium Park and John Oliver Park in Delta. The Jamborees welcomed over 400 children aged 5-12 who met several Canadian national rugby stars, including Olympian Ghislaine Landry. Youngsters from local Rugby Clubs as well as newcomers got the chance to show their rugby skills and several lucky players went home with tickets for the 2019 HSBC Canada Sevens Tournament, taking place this weekend at BC Place.
Speaking at the event, Rio 2016 Bronze Medalist and Canada Women’s Sevens Team Captain Landry was very upbeat about being part of the Jamborees. “To have HSBC on board for Rookie Rugby is massive. I was just talking to a little girl who is only 10 years old, but she has already been playing for 5 years and that’s amazing. The Canada Women’s Rugby Teams are currently ranked 3rd (Sevens) and 4th (XVs) in the world and that’s with most players only starting playing at High School. So for these kids to have this opportunity that much earlier in life, it could be the difference for us to start pushing to be one of the top teams in the world”
This sentiment was echoed by Canada Men’s Sevens Team and BC local Justin Douglas. “I didn’t start rugby until High School, so to see the grassroots growing through programs like Rookie Rugby is amazing.” Douglas, who played with Abbotsford RFC for much of his younger years, came top in the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series Impact Player standings. “It’s so great that kids are becoming aware of rugby at a younger age and are able to get involved with the sport so easily.”
The presence of the National Team players created a real buzz at the events, with children lining up for autographs from their sporting heroes. “This is such a fantastic experience for my children,” mentioned one parent, “to be able to interact with these athletes, to meet someone who inspires them. My kids only started playing last year and they are both hooked. It was so easy to get involved and there is a real community feeling, especially at events like this.”.
Rugby is an exciting, sociable sport played by over 6 million people around the world. Youth rugby participation continues to grow rapidly in Canada, which is largely due to Rugby Canada’s mass participation program, Rookie Rugby. The program introduces the game of rugby in a safe way for kids of all ages. The game is a non-contact, co-ed form of rugby using flag belts, allowing players to learn the basics while being active and having fun with their friends.
If your child would like to experience rugby for the first time, BC Rugby Member Clubs are hosting TRY Rugby events on March 31st at venues across the Lower Mainland and Island. For more information on these free events, visit bcrugby.com/jointhegame
BC Rugby would like to thank the Rugby Canada players that attended the events (Ghislaine Landry, Justin Douglas, Lucas Hammond, Andrea Burk, Paige Farries, and Elissa Alarie) and all of the member clubs who made both Jamborees such fantastic events. Special thanks must go to the volunteers from the Vancouver Police Department/Justice Rugby and Brit Lions RFC for hosting the events in Vancouver and Delta respectively.
The Jamborees kicked off a week of Rugby activity ahead of HSBC Canada Sevens Tournament taking place on March 9th and 10th at BC Place. These include school visits by the 16 international Men’s Sevens teams from the likes of New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and England, as well as activations and parties throughout the city. The action builds towards the end of the week with the Vancouver Sevens Invitational hosting nearly 50 teams from Canada and the USA on March 7 and 8 at UBC, as well as the Vancouver Rugby Festival Masters XVs event taking place on March 8 at Connaught Park.