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Buffalo Rugby Restarts Youth Rugby Program
Posted Monday July 31, 2017

The Buffalo Rugby Restarts Their Youth Rugby Program

This spring and summer the Buffalo Rugby Club (BRC) restarted its youth rugby program that had been long dormant. Nearly 20 years ago, in 1998, the club partnered with the Buffalo Police Athletic League (PAL) to run a week long, half day summer touch rugby program. The kids were in camp from 9AM to Noon learning and playing. Each day the PAL provided a lunch and on the last day of camp, the kids showed off to their parents and friends and enjoyed a pizza party. Among the group of players, at least four, Megan Hann, Dylan Hann, Michael Hann, and Tyler Maccubbin, went on to play rugby in high school, college, and beyond. Mike Lewis and Lex Maccubbin helped coach the first year. Subsequently, Clancy Seymour, Ron Astridge, Brian Gunsolus and Lewis kept the program going with support from the PAL from1999 to 2005.  Unfortunately the city cut funding for the program after 2005 and the camps were discontinued.

Fast forward to 2017 and the BRC has revved up a new version of youth rugby using the flag rugby model of Rookie Rugby. Initially, Matt Sutton reached out to the PAL and with the PAL making introductions, the club was able to put on weekly clinics in the month of May in the gym at the Machnica Community Center on Clinton St. These introductory clinics ran for 1 and ½ hours each week for four weeks with 20 to 25 kids participating. Members from BRC, Sutton, Maccubbin, Anthony Crispo, Jeff Qualey, Mackensie Doolittle, and Astridge plus Sam Gray from Buffalo Women, coached and taught the kids. At the end of the four weeks, the PAL provided pizza for all today enjoy.

Next the BRC partnered with the Nardin Academy Athletic Center to hold several 1 hour clinics in the Nardin indoor facility. The introductory sessions ran once a week in the month of June and in addition to the coaches who worked at the Machnica Center, Mike Lang, Rick Weiss, and Collin DeGuehery from BRC joined the staff. Although the numbers were smaller that these clinics, the kids were enthusiastic and several have continued on playing in the summer program.

In addition to the above introductory clinics, the BRC currently is running weekly 1 hour sessions at the West Side Community Center on Vermont St. where an average of 20 kids participate. Finally, there are 12 kids who have been attended weekly outdoor sessions on Monday evenings at the Delaware Park Rugby Pitch. This is a dedicated group of players who are learning quickly and who have shown up rain or shine. Hugh Davis, Jack Schweigel, and Jim Coleman have joined in coaching and provide excellent help.

So after an extensive spring and summer effort, the BRC looks to continue and expand. Later this summer and fall, the goals include:

  1. Players from the Delaware Park sessions participating in at least one flag rugby festival.

  2. The BRC with the help of the PAL starting at least one afterschool program in a Buffalo school.

  3. Prior to home matches for the senior men’s teams, the flag rugby players playing a game or two and then staying on to watch “big boy” rugby.

Although the flag program is well underway, it is not too late for more kids to join. Any interested players can contact the BRC at flagrugby@buffalorugby.org, check out the flag schedule on the BRC website (https://buffalorugby.org ) or like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BuffaloRugbyClubYouth/ ).

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