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Rugby 101

The best way to learn rugby is to play ... the second best way is to watch!

Many of us rugby "veterans" still learn more about this game even after years of experience, so at Orca, no one is alienated just because they're new - we keep up the rugby tradition of welcoming all!

We believe the best way to learn rugby is to participate - if you're of playing age (8 years old through high school), lace up your boots and run around with us, and if you're a parent, bring the family down to a practice or game and don't hesitate to ask us your questions!

Bottom line, come see it for yourself! But since we're not always out on the pitch, here are a few links that will help you get a basic understanding...and if you just got confused by the word 'pitch', definitely check these resources out! :)

safety resources

Southern California Youth Rugby's (SCYR) Parent Page

Perfect resource for parents new to rugby!

Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll teaches rugby tackling

With the growing awareness of head injuries in the NFL (case in point, new release of "Concussion" starring Will Smith), Pete Carroll was on the right track when he took the initiative to adopt rugby tackling into football. The Seahawks have since reduced their missed tackles, and, most importantly, reduced their head injuries.

Seahawks Tackling Video 2015

A link similar to the above, with article attached.

how to play

How to Play Rugby Union - The Basics

Another overview with great animation to show the basics of rugby

Rugby 101

A basic overview of the laws of rugby

What rugby at this level really looks like!

Deep into the archives, back when we were Channel Islands Youth Rugby...Orca's 2009 U18 Girls' team! Might catch some heat from our alumni, but so worth it!

ESPN - Front Rowe: Rugby tackling in football

It's not a "trend," because trends fade. This is what rugby culture is about - sharing knowledge & experience to help others improve (yes, even footballers)!

In the Mainstream

David Beckham: I prefer rugby to football

...this may be just an excuse to look at David Beckham.

Sold-Out Chicago Match Marks Rugby's Rising Popularity

So wait, it's the fastest growing YOUTH sport too?!

USA Rugby Youth Promo

A quick look into the basics of rugby and its variations at the youth level, along with great reasons to give rugby a try!


Orca Flyer


Contact us to get copies!


So...why rugby?

Like we said, the best way to learn about rugby (especially why we love it so much) is to come out and join us for a practice or two! Or, check out what we do and ask one of our coaches or other parents there, why they let their kids brave the pitch, rain or shine! But if you just like to read, we have this lovely dissertation for you!

First, is rugby safe?
We think so, or we wouldn’t have our children involved in the sport! However, like any sport, there are risks. If you are new to rugby, please read this article by a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine:  Is Rugby a Safe Sport for America’s Youth? by Lyle J. Micheli, MD [PDF]  .
Rugby football is wildly popular around the planet.  The 2007 Rugby World Cup was viewed by over 4 billion people world wide.  Only the FIFA soccer world cup and the summer Olympics have more viewers.

Rugby is popular because it takes an age-old game (keep away) with just a few rules (each team stays on their side of the ball and no forward throws) which results in an action-packed, fast moving game that involves every player and requires good strategy for victory.  Some Americans say rugby combines the best of soccer, wrestling, and American football.  However, American football is an offspring of rugby football.  Both Stanford and UC Berkeley, for example, had rugby teams decades before they had American football teams!

Rugby is an Olympic sport
Did you know the USA has been the reigning Olympic rugby gold medal champion since beating France in the 1924 Olympics held in Paris, France?  Okay, so rugby took a 92 year hiatus from the Olympics, but will return to the Olympics in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And the US has a title to defend!

With Olympics around the corner, rugby clubs and high school teams have sprouted up all over America. In fact, it is our nation's fastest growing sport! Specifically in Southern California, high school leagues are growing and allowing kids to play rugby for their high schools. As clubs and high school teams continue to take root, we become the feeder system for colleges and even USA's national team, the Eagles!

Rugby is excellent training for life
Rugby is excellent training in many ways.  The physical benefits are obvious: developing endurance and agility from open field sprints back-to-back as well as the explosive power needed for tackling and wrestling for the ball.  The mental benefits are less obvious, but far more valuable and long-term:  developing self-confidence from accomplishing something very difficult, learning teamwork, developing quick thinking skills, handling pain, taking responsibility, and learning to act with control (discipline) while under pressure.  Finally, rugby builds good character:  rugby players learn to compliment opposing players and teammates for a job well done, rugby players learn that hard work is the best way to accomplish a difficult task, rugby players learn that self-sacrifice is sometimes required for the team’s benefit, and rugby players learn to keep going and never quit.

Rugby is excellent training for other sports
If you already enjoy American football, you will love rugby because rugby has MORE of what makes football so fun:  more tackling, more playing time for every player, more strategy, more adrenaline, more passing, more running, more dodging, more wrestling for the ball, more teamwork, more thinking, more camaraderie with opposing players, everyone plays the ball, and anyone can be a hero.  Rugby also has LESS than American football:  less bench time for players, less specialization, less waiting around, less equipment, less expense, less substitution, and less animosity toward opposing players.

If you play soccer, rugby will come naturally to you and help your soccer game.  The rugby ball can be played on the ground in any direction at any time with feet, just like a soccer ball, which gives soccer players a little advantage in rugby.  In World Cup matches, quite often most of the points are scored by kicks, not runs.  Rugby will improve your soccer game by keeping you fit and agile, and helping you “look for open space,” a concept identical in soccer and rugby and essential to a good offensive or defensive game.

If you wrestle or train in martial arts, rugby will improve your balance and ability to “read” your opponent’s body for direction, speed, position and evasive tactics (“jukes”).  Wrestling, judo and other grappling martial arts, and rugby are especially mutually beneficial because the enormous amount of tackling involved in rugby works the upper body and develops good body position for intercepting (or evading) your opponent.

Of course, there are many other sports that rugby can relate to, as it is one of the oldest modern-sports in the world. Endurance gained from the sport's continuous play, power developed from tackling and other contact set pieces and the agility and speed used to gain ground are all elements of athletic performance that are necessary in many other sports like basketball, lacrosse, water polo and track & field, just to name a few!


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