Youth rugby is coming to Steinbach.
Travis Paskaruk is Executive Director of Rugby Manitoba. He says about three years ago they started a program called Rookie Rugby in Winnipeg. The program has expanded to some other communities as well and this spring they will deliver it to Steinbach.
Paskaruk says the reason they chose Steinbach is because of the senior club, Southeast Thistles.
"They have been looking for development opportunities for the game out in that area and this is something that we thought was a no-brainer to help their development and develop the sport," notes Paskaruk. "We recognize Steinbach is a huge community and it's kind of gone untapped in our sport."
Rookie Rugby will consist of both Mini Rugby and Flag Rugby. Mini Rugby is for four to six-year-olds. Paskaruk says in Mini Rugby, children will learn fundamentals of the game. Whereas, the Flag Rugby program is for seven to thirteen-year-olds. Paskaruk says it is more structured than Mini Rugby. And while Flag Rugby will also include fundamentals, he notes youth will learn skills needed to pursue the game later on. Both of these programs are coed and though neither involves contact, Paskaruk says in Flag Rugby, youth will be working up towards the tackle component.
"Unfortunately we don't have tackle on the plate this year for Steinbach," explains Paskaruk. "But that's something that we hope if the reception is good enough that we can add in future years."
The program will start the weekend of April 21st and run until the end of June. Paskaruk says in Steinbach, sessions will be on Sunday afternoons, one hour per week. The goal is to play in one mini tournament in May and another three in June against other communities.
The cost to enter is $60 for Mini Rugby and $65 for Flag Rugby. To register, visit rugbymanitoba.com.
Paskaruk says the sport of rugby is growing in Manitoba.
"We've seen a boom in the last couple of years for sure," he notes. "We've seen the growth at the grassroots, youth level kind of skyrocket in the last few years since we've introduced Rookie Rugby."