“In Texas, the Land of Football, It’s Rugby to the Rescue”

New York Times, January 2, 2019


Age-Based Progression

Our youngest team, for boys and girls in grades 2-4, plays a non-contact flag version of rugby with modified rules. It’s a great introduction to the game that keeps young kids moving in non-stop action while introducing them to the newest Olympic sport in a fun and safe way.

Our tackle teams at the 5/6 and 7/8 grade levels, follow an age-based progression which builds upon their skills and offers more advanced game play as they get older.    

USA Rugby Certified Coaches


All CDC Youth Rugby coaches are experienced and USA Rugby certified and most have sons or daughters in the program. All coaches complete USA Rugby Level 100 online educational modules and all tackle coaches also attend full-day, hands-on instructional clinics to achieve Level 200 certification from USA Rugby. Topics covered include: 

  • Long-term player development

  • Pre-participation

  • Equipment, environment and emergency plan

  • Physical Conditioning

  • Lifestyle

  • Warm up

  • Principles of play

  • Open field play

  • The tackle

  • The ruck

  • The maul

  • The scrum

  • The lineout

  • Cool down & recovery

  • Injury management

In addition, all coaches complete these two Player Protection Package courses:

  • World Rugby Concussion Management

  • USOC Safesport Course

Certified Athletic Trainers

If an injury does occur during any of our matches, a certified athletic trainer, provided by Rugby Indiana, is on-site to immediately assess and treat the injury or seek further medical support if needed. 

Certified Referees

All game referees are certified by USA Rugby and required to take Player Safety online classes. A rugby referee’s primary role is to create a safe environment for the players while enforcing the adherence to the laws of the game.

The Rugby Tackle

The laws of the game, flow of play and the absence padding and helmets results in a tackling method and approach to contact that, while physical, is very different than football.

  • Rugby players don’t wear protective equipment, thus the rugby player doesn’t have the same disregard for the safety of his or her head, neck, and shoulders when tackling or trying to break through a tackle.

  • Players are taught shoulder tackling techniques and to use their arms to wrap a player’s legs and let the momentum of that player cause him to go to ground. All tackles require players to wrap between the shoulders and knees. Any contact above the shoulders is considered a “Reckless Tackle” and a player can be yellow carded or removed from the game. Even accidental contact can result in a penalty.

  • Blocking is not permitted in rugby. The only player allowed to be tackled is the person with the ball, therefore there are no blindside hits or hits on unsuspecting players. Nearly all collisions can be anticipated, allowing athletes to better prepare for contact situations.

  • Rugby is a game of possession, not yardage. Coaching technique emphasizes passing before being tackled and other skills aimed at retaining possession. This is in place of struggling to gain yards while opponents attempt to stop players at all costs.

  • Without blocking, space to run cannot be created by brute force. Therefore, rugby encourages the use of evasion and misdirection which creates opportunities to run plays and score points. 

  • Shoulder blocks, diving at the knees, or other dangerous tackles are illegal in rugby.

Over the past several years, as football has looked for ways to take the head out of tackling to increase player safety, rugby tackling has been their guide. NFL teams, major college programs and high schools have made a major shift to abandon decades of prior teaching methods and turned to rugby tackling techniques. In fact, as of 2019, all 23,000 junior high and high school football coaches in the state of Texas are required to be certified in rugby tackling techniques.

This shift began in earnest when Seattle Seahawks head coach, Pete Carroll, and Assistant Head Coach, Rocky Seto, released their "Hawk Tackling" video for football, based entirely on rugby tackling. USA Football says Rocky's rugby shoulder tackling methods have "set a new standard in player safety" for football.

How we teach this system of tackling was recently inspired by those who play rugby around the world. Rugby players have taken the head out of the game and truly exemplify shoulder tackling.
— Pete Carroll, Head Coach, Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks created this video in 2014 to encourage all levels of football to make the game safer by teaching rugby tackling techniques.

Is Rugby a Safe Sport for America's Youth? - by Lyle J. Micheli, MD, Past President of the American College of Sports Medicine