Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Philly Launches Major Rugby Initiative

The School District of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation are offering the newest Olympic Sport, Rugby, to eight selected middle schools and recreation departments. In partnership with four Promise Academies, Play Rugby USA, USA 7’s and the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Football Union, over 150 local Philadelphia students will participate in the inaugural season. This program is in association with the Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC) coming to PPL Park on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5.

The eight selected Philadelphia facilities are: Dr. Ethel D. Allen Promise Academy, Potter-Thomas School, Paul Lawrence Dunbar Promise Academy, Roberto Clemente Middle School, James Finnegan Playground, Palmer Playground, Simons Youth Access Center, and Murphy Recreation Center

The program is being managed by Play Rugby USA, a national non-profit organization devoted to its mission of “developing youth through rugby.” Play Rugby USA President, Mark Griffin, explains that the “rugby-themed youth development program combines the coaching of life skills through structured games after school with regular team-based competitions. This gives students a new opportunity to be physically active and belong to a team and a broader rugby community that will give them the skills and support network they need to stay in school, off the streets and be healthy for life.”

The School District of Philadelphia looks forward to working with Play Rugby USA on this new project. The Executive Director of Athletics for the Philadelphia School District, Robert Coleman, affirms that “it’s always an exiting time when we are introducing our students to new activities and new avenues to explore those interested in sports.” He continues that “rugby will also offer our youth an alternative to the negative pressures and influence that they face every day when they are away from school.”

In addition to the middle school rugby program, high school students and their parents will have the opportunity to meet college rugby coaches from across the nation at the Collegiate Coaches Recruitment Program during the CRC at PPL Park. In the greater-Philadelphia area, 50 high schools currently have a rugby program. Over 30 college programs will promote their university and rugby program to interested students and the coaches will discuss admissions support, scholarships, grants and participation and support networks on their campus. Both men’s and women’s programs will be represented and colleges include Boston College, Notre Dame, Penn State, Temple, West Virginia, Delaware and Connecticut.

Also at the CRC, current high school rugby players will be invited to test their skills, speed and agility in various events at the first-ever rugby combine. All scores will be recorded by USA Rugby High Performance staff and distributed to the rugby coaches of the universities participating in the Collegiate Coaches Recruitment Program. Drills include passing/accuracy, 10 meter sprint with rugby ball in both hands, 40 meter sprint and three cone agility drill. Students interested in participating in the Rugby Combine should register at www.USASevesCRC.com. The program is open to any high school male or female high school student.

Single-day and weekend tickets for USA 7’s CRC are available exclusively through ComcastTIX on line at ComcastTIX.com, by phone at 1-800-298-4200 or in person at the PPL Park box office. Group discounts are available by calling 215-389-9543.

USA 7’s Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC) at PPL Park in Chester, PA will feature 16 of the top collegiate rugby clubs in the country battling in a two-day tournament for the USA 7’s CRC title and CRC Cup. 38 matches with 14 minutes of play each in round robin format will construct the two-day contest. The CRC event presents a two-day Philly-style Block Party, where sports fans will have the opportunity to participate in rugby clinics, meet international rugby legends, enjoy live entertainment from Dropkick Murphys and local bands and feast on specialty fare from critically acclaimed gourmet portable food establishments on the East coast.

Comcast-Spectacor (comcast-spectacor.com) is the Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company which owns the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL), the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), the home for both teams, the Wells Fargo Center, and four Flyers Skate Zone community ice skating and hockey rinks.

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