It is easy to get swept up in the euphoria of a game as a rugby parent. You have seen them next to the field jumping up and down screaming encouragement and advice… and you are one of them.
The wonderful game, which is rugby, is the one game in the world that just about everyone can play. There are no limits on speed, size, agility, athleticism. It is open to everyone who wants to.
Yes if you look at it, there will be some serious bumps and bruises, but your child will pick up more life skills from rugby than just about any other activity they take part in.
For the record, everything I am writing here has NOTHING to do with the level your child plays at or has the potential to play at. I would like to encourage them to play for one reason and one reason only: the love of the game.
What your child will learn from rugby
The single most important part of rugby is player safety. That is the case for you as a rugby parent and should be for coaches. That is how the officials and coaches look at every situation. If it is detrimental to the player, the player should not continue playing. This is not something very common in sports these days and definitely something to remember. As a rugby family, we look after each other.
We look after each other to an extent that often defies logic. All of this is on the back of what the core of the game is all about: discipline, teamwork, integrity and fun.
When you get involved in a rugby community at a school or a club, bonds are formed that will last a lifetime. Lessons are also learned that you would be hard-pressed to find in any classroom.
Players will go through highs and lows. Learn to handle pressure and to do their part for the greater good. They will also learn to work with people they might not like… but in the end, they will all smile and laugh about what they accomplished together. As a parent of a rugby player, we should help them through the good and the bad times
The challenging job of a rugby parent
Children start playing at different ages and have different abilities. It often happens that we as parents get swept up in “what could be”. This happens when we see a glimpse of brilliance from our child.
One of the hardest challenges you would face as a rugby parent is to accept that the best thing you can do for your child is not to push them but to merely support them as they grow in the game.
World Rugby has an often discussed theme, Long Term Player Development (LTPD), which focuses on gradually equipping a player to reach his or her full potential. As a parent, you need to allow your child to go through this process and make sure you do whatever you can to help them reach that potential.
How it works with children of different ages
At different ages, kids react differently to a sport. There are a couple of things that should be remembered based on the age of the child. As parents of rugby players, we should take this into account and guide them.
Before we jump into the age groups, there is also the hot topics of:
When you hear that for the first time you will probably be shocked. Parents are however very competitive. They want to make sure that their children have all the advantages possible to succeed. It is however important to take a realistic look at it.
To guide you as rugby parent, we have broken down some guidelines into age groups:
- Players under 8 years of age
- Slightly older players between 8 and 11
- Young teens between 11 and 14
- Older teens between 14 and 18
- Fresh out of school between 18 and 21
- Players over 21
At each of these age levels, children have gone through different levels of physical and mental development.
This, in combination with the player’s rugby experience, should be taken into account. When you look at how best you can support your child when he or she plays rugby.