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Youth 7s a Big Success for Utah

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Youth 7s a Big Success for Utah

It was another busy weekend at the West Jordan sports complex in Utah as teams as young as U6 up to U14 played in the Utah Youth Rugby summer 7s series.

The games are scored, but overall it’s not a tournament where winning is the only thing. Utah Youth Rugby’s Michael Cressler said the idea is to use touch rugby and 7s to teach people the game.

“We started four years ago with 25 kids,” said Cressler. “Most of them were kids who had seen their older brothers play and wanted to try it. After a while, they’d come back and they’d bring a friend, and that’s how it’s grown.”

The competitions have grown at about a 28% clip each year, and this year over 50 teams have participated.

Many of the teams are centered around neighborhoods. Utah Youth Rugby Youth Development Officer Eric Swapp has been working with rec centers to teach PE teachers how to coach rugby. That has introduced more kids to the game, and they come out to the UYR 7s tournaments, too.

“That’s how we get most of our girls into rugby,” said Cressler, adding that Utah HS all-star Addy Sorensen started in this program and is the first youth 7s player to graduate to select-side play, which she did in her freshman year in high school.

“This is a great vehicle for us,” said Cressler. “It’s grown into a Middle School 15s league. We emphasize fun, and as the kids get older it’s more competitive, and high schools are already seeing the benefit.”

Several area college players help with the coaching, while many high school players end up working as referees, giving both types of players a different insight into the game.