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7s for the Young a Good Idea

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7s for the Young a Good Idea

Every summer is a bigger and better summer for high school 7s.

And while, contrary to what some might think, I don’t believe 7s should replace 15s in the hearts and minds of all rugby players, I do think that 7s is enormously important for young American athletes learning the game.

Consider that just a few years ago, there was virtually no high school 7s at all. Some 7s tournaments had U19 brackets, but almost no girls teams showed up and the boys brackets usually boasted no more than four teams.

But once rugby 7s became an Olympic sport in October of 2009, the ice that young players should play 7s took hold. Now many states hold HS 7s series through the summer. The Surfside 7s series held a national championship this year.

The Las Vegas Invitational jumped on the bandwagon so early, you’d have to say they probably drove it for a while. At the LVI a small Boys HS tournament featuring select sides ballooned into a four-bracket group of tournaments with over 50 teams. Suddenly single high schools, compilation teams, touring programs, and state, province, and national teams were playing.

The reasons are many-fold. Sevens is a lot of fun. If you want to run and pass and score some points, and then take a break, check out who’s around, and then do it again, well 7s is for you.

Sevens teaches you how to execute open-field skills (passing, passing on the fly, balance, tackling).

It’s a little easier to learn for a new player, and it’s a great way to introduce a very athletic newbie into the sport.

We knew all of this, but it can sometimes be a struggle to get the bandwagon going. That’s in part because young players become hooked on rugby sometimes before their parents are. Plans have been made for the summer. What do you mean you love this new sport so much you want to play it all the time? Or … what do you mean you want to blow off summer football practice to go play rugby in Utah?

It’s a bit of a sell job, but the job is being done. Rugby 7s gives these kids something positive to do in the summer. It’s a great sport for young women and girls to play during the summer months, as it addresses some of the aspects of play many girls need to improve on.

So the next step has been taken, in my opinion. The Serevi Cup is a High School tournament held during the USA Club 7s. This is certainly a move to get more people to watch the club 7s - the CRC and the USA 7s do the same thing. But it’s more than that, because the Serevi Cup kids get a wonderful venue - not an afterthought field - and true support from the promoters.

I actually hope it doesn’t turn into a national championship, and remains an invitational tournament. But its existence should be encouraged and maintained. If Starfire hosts club nationals next year or years after, it would be very nice to see this satellite tournament stay with the adults’ event. Just sign me up for that bandwagon now.