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How the National Schools 7s Can Grow the Game

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How the National Schools 7s Can Grow the Game

With their football players looking on from the sidelines, Penn HS won the Indiana fall 7s in 2021. Alex Goff photo.

Growing the game is a phrase bounced around in rugby and can mean different things in different circumstances, but one new idea could be a significant catalyst to growing high school rugby.

The new National School 7s tournament to be held in Salt Lake City October 7 and 8 presents a special opportunity to teams around the country.

The National Schools 7s is run by Michael Cressler, who runs the hugely successful NAI 7s, conceived this tournament basically because he saw a demand. And there is a demand. First off, the interest in school-team rugby is high in part because if leverages school loyalties in other sports.

But there's more to it than that. There are many coaches around the country trying to build rugby programs and battling a little bit against obstacles such as numbers needed, scheduling, and showing proof of concept. This tournament, while certainly during the football season (which offers its own complications), offers a chance to play and play at a high level as a school team when you only need 12 players.

People who are hoping to form school teams but have to work as a club because of depth in 15s rugby can put together a team from one school for 7s. It's a way, then, to grow the game. What if your HS club draws from three high schools, and then you take three school teams to the National School 7s. Might that energize students and parents and a school to support three 15s school teams? It couldn't hurt.

And one more thing about football season. Yes, the National Schools 7s is in the fall, but one of the reasons high school 7s is usually played in the fall is because there is demand for rugby for players not playing football. And the standard doesn't fall off. Penn HS, without their football players, won the Indiana fall 7s. Mountain Ridge (Utah), Hough (North Carolina), Pelham (NY), East HS (Colorado), and St. Edward (Ohio), just to name a few, are all school teams that won their fall 7s despite having strong football demands on their players.

Want to get rugby more entrenched in a school? The National Schools 7s is one way to do it then. Take the players you have from one school, form a 7s team, and make the trip.

For more on the National Schools 7s, go here>>