The sport of rugby has officially come to Gorham. The Gorham Recreation Department, in partnership with Challenger Sports, the coaching and consulting company with an international presence in soccer and other sports, rolled out the Rookie Rugby program and kids ran and rolled in the grass for several Wednesday evenings in the spring. From August 21 through 25, there will be a weeklong camp with half and full day options for kids aged 7-14.
Ben Marshall, Gorham Rec’s Director of Programs, is working to provide the community with opportunities to learn about and participate in internationally popular, locally unconventional sports that are quickly growing in participants and fans throughout the United States. Futsol was introduced in the winter, with plans for an extensive program next winter, and ultimate frisbee also kicked off as a grassroots initiative supported by the department. Plans are in the works for a mini cricket program next spring.
The initial Rookie Rugby clinic had four boys and four girls participate, ranging in age from 6 to 11 years old. Marshall is confident that registration “could have been more but we created the program pretty late” and then had to find an available coach. Marshall said, “It’s a growing game at college and I’m finding a lot of parents have played it and want their kids to learn about it.”
Rugby was founded in England in the 19th century. American football is derived from rugby. Examples of this are goalposts for kicking scores, the similar size and shape of the ball, and the line of “scrimmage” in football, where play begins, is from rugby’s “scrummage” commonly abbreviated to “scrum,” the method for interrupted play to start anew.
While there are modifications and variations, typically rugby is played in 15 v. 15-player or 7 v. 7- player formats, with layers of forwards and backs. Scoring is accomplished with “trys,” when a player grounds the ball in the end zone to put five points on the scoreboard, followed by a two-point conversion kick attempt through uprights, as well as three-point possibilities by drop goal kicks through the uprights during regular play or following a penalty.
Marshall explained, “Our Rookie Rugby programs are non-contact. Players practice and play a form of flag rugby. It is a fun, safe, team game that develops a range of ball handling, running and evasion skills.”
For more information on the summer rugby camp, contact Gorham Recreation Department: www.gorhamrec.com, 222-1630.