Partner Profile: Schools Sevens Rugby
January 27, 2016
Did you know that there is a youth rugby program here in Eugene/Springfield? Schools Sevens Rugby is a non-profit organization that provides local students with the opportunity to learn more about rugby and participate in clinics and games. The program’s Executive Director, Doc Venter, was inspired to found the club in 2012 when, after attending a rugby showcase in Portland, his son asked him why Eugene didn’t have a rugby club.
In 2013, Venter formed Schools Sevens Rugby, with the help of another parent of a rugby-loving student. The organization is named after the 7-a-side format that their club adopted. Traditionally, rugby is played with fifteen players per side. However, since the 1980s the smaller seven player per side format has made huge leaps in popularity due to its simplicity and fast-paced games. This increase in popularity and the fact that sevens rugby is easier to teach, prompted Doc to adopt this format for his program. Sevens rugby, as it is called, will make its debut as an Olympic sport in the 2016 summer games.
Once the structure was agreed upon, Doc and other organization volunteers began making visits to local schools. They introduced students to the game of rugby and oversaw PE classes where the students were instructed in the basic skills of the game. These visits increased interest in sevens rugby and prompted Schools Sevens to organize two free youth rugby clinics in 2013. Both clinics attracted a large number of students, many of whom participate in the program today.
The program now offers a year-long schedule of clinics, and seasons, (in addition to their school visits), that allow students in grades 4-12 to realize and develop their skills in rugby and as an overall athlete. Venter described the organization’s goals as being two-tiered, “The goal is first, just to get kids active. Then the sport-specific goal is to establish sevens rugby in local schools through a local league.”
However, this goal does not come without obstacles. Field space in Eugene is difficult to find and nearly impossible to schedule. According to the Oregon Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, a city with Eugene’s population should have 5-10 acres per 1,000 people of heavily programmed athletic facilities in strategically located sites. The City needs six new fields to meet that goal.
Schools Sevens teamed up with Kidsports to find suitable facilities to host Schools Sevens’ activities. Kidsports, an organization that also suffers from the current field and gym shortage, was able to find time in its own schedule to share with Venter’s rugby kids. Doc continues to see more and more children express an interest in rugby. He looks forward to a day when he can play on Civic’s field.
“Civic Park would offer a central venue for the majority of our players who live in central and south Eugene. To have access to both indoor and outdoor facilities for rugby clinics and meetings would be an enormous boost for our sport.” says Venter.
We are excited about the possibility of hosting Schools Sevens Rugby and many other local youth and adult sports teams at Civic Park. To learn more about School Sevens Rugby and the history of the sport, visit http://www.schoolssevensrugby.org