More than 600 boys and girls are playing touch and mini-rugby in Kelowna and area.                                -Image: Contributed

More than 600 boys and girls are playing touch and mini-rugby in Kelowna and area. -Image: Contributed

Record numbers join touch rugby programs

Grassroots rugby programs in the Central Okanagan continue to expand.

With more than 650 boys and girls registered, the popularity of touch rugby and mini-rugby is on the rise in Kelowna.

Last weekend, 325 young athletes took part in week 1 of Central Okanagan spring touch rugby programs at the Parkinson Rec Centre, a 39 per cent jump in enrollments over 2017.

Sixteen elementary schools, featuring 333 boys and girls, are also into their first week of touch rugby play as league action began on Wednesday.

This rapid growth has not surprised local touch rugby enthusiasts.

“Touch rugby is an inclusive game that anyone can play at any age,” said Derek Worrall, program coordinator for touch rugby with the Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts (CORE). “It offers our young players a place to develop individual innovation/decision-making skills and teamwork skills, while getting a great run and having a lot of fun.”

Touch rugby for Central Okanagan youth is delivered in three different types of programs:

1. Mini-Rugby—provides 60 minutes of running, passing/catching, and minor games play every Sunday for 4- to 7-year-old boys and girls.

2. Beginners Touch Sevens—provides two beginner’s touch games, general skills practice, and team practice each week as grade 2 and 3 students have fun developing new skills for elusive running, passing to space, team attack, and team defence.

3. Touch Sevens—provides two touch sevens games, general skills practice, and team practice each week as Grades 4 to 7 players have fun advancing their fitness and touch rugby skills.

“We are very excited for the expansion of our sport for our community’s youth,” said Worrall. “We look forward to supporting our young athletes as they build character playing what we believe is the greatest sport in the world.”

Feeling left out of the sport as an adult? Men and women interested in trying out the game can participate in the Summer Touch Rugby League, which starts June 25 and runs Monday nights for eight weeks. A competitive and a recreational league operated last year with 13 teams and 200-plus athletes.

If your business would like to enter a team (six men and women on the field at once, usually 12 – 14/team constantly subbing players on the fly), or if you would like to join a team, contact Doug Manning via email for further information. (4dougmanning@gmail.com).

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