“In Texas, the Land of Football, It’s Rugby to the Rescue”
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
Equipment, environment and emergency plan
Principles of play
Open field play
Cool down & recovery
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.
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.
Is Rugby a Safe Sport for America's Youth? - by Lyle J. Micheli, MD, Past President of the American College of Sports Medicine