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Rugby Indiana Caps Off Big Fall 7s Season

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Rugby Indiana Caps Off Big Fall 7s Season

Rugby Indiana held its HS 7s this past weekend, crowning champions in Boys and Girls brackets.

In the Boys bracket, the Fishers-HSE team beat Noblesville 19-15 in the final.

Two Kentucky teams faced off in the final of the consolation bracket, with St. Xavier HS beating Bluegrass 31-14.

In the Girls bracket, Carroll beat Penn 15-12 in the final, while North Central took down Noblesville 43-10 in the consolation final.

This was the first tournament in which scores were recorded. Rugby Indiana has held a series of events designed to increase participation, and that's why they downplay results.

"When I took over as Executive Director in fall of 2015, I had seen too many kids standing on the sidelines and the same teams playing each other every week in our Fall 15s," said Rugby Indiana ED Wayne Eells. "I decided a change was in order. By switching to 7s, those players increased their playing time, and there were more teams to play."

And with some players away playing other sports in the fall, Eells looked at fall 7s as a way to recruit more players tothe game without a lot of pressure.

"With my team at the time, Sam DiFilippo and Evan Roberts, we spent time trying to intentionally create a season that had the following factors:

  • Fun
  • Lots of play time opportunity
  • A way for teams to recruit new players
  • Rugby ethos/family – connections to each other.
  • Use the 7s game to help teach good basics of run, pass, catch, tackle, use space. You know, the game of INVASION, that is achieved by EVASION, and stopped by CONTACT.
  • Not burn all the coaches, referees, admins, players, parents out, like the longer competitive season does
  • A season that worked around the challenges of Fall Sports

The result was a four-week season playing on Sundays, with each team playing three games. The kids know who wins and loses but the scores are not recorded.

"They focus on the joy of the game itself," said Eells. "They learn about the game. Coaches are able to give them one thing to fix or work on for their next match on the same day."

The players use the tournaments as a way to socialize, as well. They visit the other team camps, and become part of the larger rugby family.

"They are having so much fun; when we get to the end of the four weeks, they are begging for another week," said Eells. "We leave them excited about rugby, hungry for more."

This is all about lowering the pressure level (often too high in most school sports) and then using a fun, festival atmosphere to bring more kid to the game.

Eells references a 2014 study by Amanda J. Visek published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health: “Fun Integration Theory: Towards Sustaining Children and Adolescents Sport Participation”

Results of that study ranked the order of values (as reported by the Aspen Institute) for U18 athletes:

  • Trying their best
  • When coaches treat players with respect
  • Getting playing time
  • Playing well together as a team
  • Getting along with teammates
  • Exercising and well being

All of those factors rank higher than winning or earning medals. And it's working, as more teams and players have participated every year.