Contact: Al Geiser, Secretary (Al.Geiser@ChicagoWapitiRFC.com) 773-270-1314FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chicago, IL — June 8, 2011
Chicago Launches First Youth Rugby Club
Chicago has a new game in town for kids: rugby.
On Sunday afternoons through mid-June, children ages 4 – 14 are playing touch rugby at Revere Park through a partnership between the Chicago Wapiti Rugby Football Club (CWRFC) and the Chicago Park District.
With a series of clinics last summer and fall, CWRFC launched the first youth rugby program in Chicago. Wapiti RFC now has players in U14, U10, U8 and U6 programs learning Rookie Rugby, a game of two-hand touch played by seven-member teams with no tackles, rucks, mauls, scrums or lineouts. Rookie Rugby is a simple form of rugby which teaches the fundamentals of ball handling, spatial awareness, movement, decision making, tactics, and strategy – skills that translate well to all sports. It’s an inclusive game for girls and boys of all shapes, sizes and skill levels.
“It is great to see how much the kids enjoy playing, as well as learning about the sportsmanship and camaraderie that are so much a part of rugby tradition,” notes Sean O’Conor, CWRFC President and one of the four Wapiti club founders. “As a group of fathers, we wanted to pass along our love of the game to our kids, but the excitement has caught on in a very big way.”
This spring, more than 75 girls and boys along with 20 coaches have registered with USA Rugby as club members, making it not only the first youth rugby club in Chicago, but now the largest of any rugby club in the Chicago area. USA Rugby is the governing body of all US Rugby Clubs, including adult and university teams or “sides.” All Wapiti coaches and administrators are certified by USA Rugby in conjunction with the Illinois Youth Rugby Association (IYRA).
“There are about 30 clubs and schools in the Chicagoland area, many of the clubs being represented by the founders, coaches and parents of Wapiti players,” states David Hall, IYRA President. “Youth rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the US. With rugby being reintroduced in the 2016 Olympic Games after a long hiatus, we’re hoping some of our rugby Olympians might come from Chicago.”
The Chicago Park District is a partner with CWRFC, hosting the weekly practices and scrimmages on Sundays from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm at Revere Park at 2509 West Irving Park Road, two blocks west of Western Avenue. Former 47th Ward Alderman Eugene Schulter and the 47th Ward Office were instrumental in coordination with the Chicago Park District for the inaugural season.
“The Chicago Park District is thrilled with the opportunity to offer a new sport to the youth of Chicago,” says Greg Czajkowski, Revere Park Supervisor. “Touch rugby provides kids with an outlet for fitness, game strategy, sportsmanship and lots of fun – a perfect fit for our parks.”
The CWRFC is an Illinois 501(c)3 not for profit organization and all fees from the participants are used for equipment and gear used by the children and staff.
For more information, visit www.ChicagoWapitiRFC.com or call (773) 270-1314.
Chicago Wapiti RFC executive committee members:
Sean O’Conor – President Sean.Oconor@ChicagoWapitiRFC.com
Ray Karenas – Vice-president Ray.Karenas@ChicagoWapitiRFC.com
Roy Hays – Treasurer Roy.Hays@ChicagoWapitiRFC.com
Al Geiser – Secretary Al.Geiser@ChicagoWapitiRFC.com