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Rugby is a great option for your son or daughter, giving them the opportunity to play a game that will teach them how to be a leader on and off the field. We know that there can be concerns with placing your child in a new sport, which we hope to help answer within the FAQs below.

Some interesting facts about the sport of Rugby:

  • Played in over 120 countries throughout the world. Second largest sport in the world.

  • Men and women, boys and girls play by the same rules. There are both non-contact and contact versions of the game, making it appropriate for all age levels.

  • Rugby is all-inclusive - Everyone can play no matter what size, shape, or athletic ability!

  • Rugby is a sport that involves cardiovascular endurance, strength, agility, and many other health benefits.

  • Rugby is a great cross-over sport, with many of the same skills that can be found in other sports like basketball, football, soccer, and many more!

  • Rugby 7’s is now included in the Olympic Games, increasing the popularity of the sport for both boys and girls.


Frequently Asked Questions for Parents

Q: I’ve heard rugby described as ‘football without pads’ – is this accurate?

A: Football is a sport that originated from the game of rugby, but it is a much different game. Rugby is a very controlled game with a lot of rules in place to keep all players safe on the field. Although rugby players do not wear pads and protection, they are taught the necessary skills to stay safe and successful on the field.

Q: How can my son/daughter try the sport without getting thrown into a full contact game?

A: Flag rugby is a great option for kids of any age to try the sport without any contact elements. Flag rugby can be played indoors and outdoors in schools or communities. Many kids start playing flag rugby in P.E. class and move into contact programs after learning the basics. To learn more about flag rugby, visit WPRFC offers a clinic series in the fall and the spring that is based on the Rookie Rugby curriculum.  There are also some flag tournaments for older youth to try out the sport.

Q: How much will it cost for my child to play rugby?

A: We do not want the cost of rugby to prevent participation. Our organization will work with families who need sponsorship. Please let a coach or administrator know.

Q: How does USA Rugby protect its athletes?

A: USA Rugby believes in putting a player’s safety above everything else. USA Rugby requires that all rugby coaches register and complete our Level 100 Coaching Certification, which includes a Player Protection Package and a Background Check. Additionally, with every player registration USA Rugby provides Third Party Liability Insurance and Rugby Accident Insurance. We feel that providing these levels of protections keeps our athletes safe and enjoying the game.

Q: What is my job as a rugby parent?


Get Involved!

We know that being a sport parent is a tough job - being there for our children is a full-time job in itself. We want to offer you the chance to get off the sidelines and get in the game by becoming a rugby coach or referee! There are great opportunities to become more involved in the game we all love.

What is Youth Rugby?

Youth rugby includes both non-contact, flag rugby that can be played by boys and girls of all ages, and full contact rugby played according to modified international rules. It is a game that introduces the kids to the sport of rugby, where everyone gets to pass, catch, run and score with the ball. Flag rugby is played with flags to simulate and replace the tackle. Kids will learn about all the unique parts of rugby, like the ‘scrum’ and the ‘line-out’, in a fun, safe and non-contact environment. When kids and parents feel ready, the contact version of the sport is there for them as well.

How do you play Youth Rugby, and how is it similar to other sports?

Teammates will run with the ball in their hands, passing the ball among them, looking to run between or around the opposition to score in the try zone. Several skills like running, passing, spacing, vision and decision-making are the same skills that are used in soccer, football, and basketball.

Are there special skills necessary to start playing Youth Rugby?

No special skills are necessary to begin. If kids can pass, and catch a ball while running, they’ll be a star. Remember, tackling will be replaced with flags in flag rugby (U10). Kids will concentrate on the skills of passing, running, kicking and positional play. For the tackle team (U12), our coaches

are certified by USA Rugby (Level 200) to teach the necessary advanced skills for safety and fun.

Will Youth Rugby help my kid in other sports?

Rugby is excellent preparation for any team sport. The game will get kids in excellent shape. They’ll improve their ability to read defenses. Their passing and footwork will be vastly improved for their other sports.

In some sports my kids play now, they hardly touch the ball. Will that happen in Youth Rugby?

No! Teamwork is very important and because there are no downs in rugby, the ball keeps moving around the field. Everyone touches the ball! Everyone runs with the ball! Everyone passes the ball! Everyone scores!!!

Is rugby safe?

While injuries are of course possible in any sport, there are rules in place to limit the amount of injuries compared to American football. With a renewed emphasis on player safety, NFL football teams have been bringing in rugby coaches to re-teach their players how to tackle safely. Many rugby clubs around the country have "old-boys" teams that play at age 35+; this is a testament to the lifetime of fun that can be had by learning the game of rugby.

How is rugby different from other sports?

  • Roles for every body type: While there are positions and roles, the free flow continuous nature of the game means that any player is capable of picking up the ball and going to score.

  • After Game Socials are a tradition internationally in the rugby community. This allows players not only to get to know each other, but to get to know and respect the opposing team as well. In the youth rugby context this will also allow players and parents to get to know each other as well. Here's an example that shows how the professionals do it.

  • Respect. Abuse of referees has been a recent news highlight in other youth sports. From the beginning, rugby instills an absolute respect for the referee with a "Yes, sir" and "Thank you, sir" for every call whether agreed with or not. Here's an example of a 6'5", 260lb professional saying sorry to a referee after he was sent off a match!

What if my child has never played rugby before?

New to Rugby? No problem. Most kids in the US are new to rugby, and all of them will be learning. Our dedicated coaches have years of rugby experience, and most of them are fathers and mothers who have been coaching in other youth sports, and are now very excited to teach the next generation the joys of rugby.

What is Rugby? Here is a Beginners Guide:

Beginners Guide to Rugby

*Published by the International Rugby Board (IRB)

You will need Adobe Reader to open the Beginners Guide


Is rugby a safe sport for America’s youth?

by Lyle J. Micheli, MD

Commentary by a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine

(Found on the USA Rugby website)


I support efforts to establish rugby teams in American high schools and colleges, and wish to alleviate any possible concerns about the sport’s relative safety.

I think I offer a unique perspective on the subject given that I have been closely involved in rugby as a player and supporter since the early 1960s when I began playing the sport as a Harvard undergraduate, and I am a physician who is a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. I am the author of over 200 scholarly journal articles on sports medicine (including the first-ever published study of rugby injuries in the United States); in my practice I have treated athletes of all ages from sports as varied as figure skating and football; and I am the chairman of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

A popular sport worldwide

Rugby is a dynamic contact sport that is played all over the world by men and women of all different classes, creeds, and races. It fosters friendship and camaraderie between players. To celebrate one recent Christmas, men from the American and New Zealand research stations in Antarctica played a game of rugby against each other on those southernmost frozen wastelands. Most rugby players have played with and against people from other nations.


Rugby is played in over 100 countries and is the most popular team sport in nations such as Japan, Fiji, and Wales. This sport could not be as popular as it is among the peoples of so many different cultures if it were dangerous! In fact, the risk of injury in rugby is relatively low compared to sports Americans embrace – such as football, ice hockey, and lacrosse – a fact borne-out by numerous studies to ascertain the risk of sports injury in different activities. The reasons for this are quite straightforward to those of us who study sports medicine.

Why rugby is a safe sport – paradoxically

The main reason rugby players have a relatively low risk of injury compared to football players is paradoxical – rugby players don’t wear protective equipment. Thus the rugby player doesn’t have the same disregard for the safety of his or her head, neck, and shoulders when tackling or trying to break through a tackle. The other reason is that unlike football, rugby is a game of possession, not yardage. Consequently rugby players don’t tackle by “driving through the numbers,” as football players are taught to do with their heads when tackling a player. In rugby, players are taught to use their arms to wrap a player’s legs and let the momentum of that player cause him to go to ground. Furthermore, in rugby there is no blocking, and so players who don’t have the ball don’t get hit when they’re not expecting it.


One of the reasons rugby has a reputation for being “dangerous” in the United States is because when the average American sees rugby being played, he or she sees a free-flowing contact sport. Because it doesn’t have the familiar stop-and-start character of football and other TV-shaped sports, to the uninitiated rugby can appear confusing and “scary.”


Furthermore, while the bumps, bruises, and scrapes you see on the elbows, knees, and faces of many rugby players can appear alarming, they are of considerably less concern than the anterior cruciate ligament ruptures, finger fractures and dislocations, and chest contusions characteristic of a sport such as football in which heavy protective equipment is worn.

Injury rates

I performed one of the first studies of rugby injuries in the United States, which showed that compared to football, the incidence of injury in rugby is quite low (10 percent in American club rugby compared to 52 percent in NCAA college football). My study was published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Sports Medicine. Subsequent studies have supported my results.


It would be disingenuous to suggest that rugby players never get injured. However, based on the numerous studies that have been done, the scientific conclusion we must reach is that rugby is not as injurious as certain other contact and collision sports that most of us believe deserve NCAA status, and is a relatively safe sport in the panoply of athletic endeavors available to our young men and women.


Since the early study I did, sports medicine has grown as a specialty and there has emerged a considerable body of literature on the safety of all sports, including rugby. If you review the literature you will find no evidence to suggest that rugby should be denied a legitimate place in high schools and colleges around the world.


For all the reasons outlined above, I have no hesitation based on my personal and professional experience to declare that rugby is worthy of a place in American colleges and high schools.


Dr. Lyle Micheli is director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Associate Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine and currently serves as chairman of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Dr. Micheli is chairman of USA Rugby’s Medical & Risk Management Committee.

Taken from

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