Our Club was started in 2010 and maintains a men’s, women’s and youth side. Our club has over 200 members and many new volunteers coming out each year. We are family oriented and love teaching the game of rugby to all.
Temecula Mountain Lions Rugby Club promotes, manages and teaches the game of rugby to all, developing and sustaining a nationally renowned club with members that conduct themselves with commitment, pride, passion and honor both on and off the field.
Rugby involves sprinting, tackling, pushing, kicking, Cardiovascular fitness and endurance, Strength in upper and lower body, Agility, Speed, Ball-handling, Team skills, Social interaction, Communication skills and Self-discipline.
Your high school season is over. Your players are already making plans to play other sports during the winter and the spring. What should they play?
In the spring, especially, football coaches find themselves at odds with their player’s choices. But what if your players could play a sport that not only keeps them in shape for football, but actually makes them better football players?
The sport is out there, it is called rugby, and strangely enough, some football coaches won’t let their athletes play the game,
High-school age rugby is played throughout the USA, culminating in a national championship tournament in late May.
The game itself is in ancestor of football, and is similar to a no-huddle, wishbone gridiron game with all two-way players. Forward passing is not allowed, so the ball must be advanced by hard running and intricate lateral passing. After a tackle, play continues as teams form essentially a compacted line of scrimmage and try to drive each other off the ball. Players and football coaches who have been involved in both sports agree that playing rugby can make for better football players, and more dedicated athletes.
“The improvement in fitness, hand-eye coordination, and tackling technique after a season of rugby is phenomenal”, said Mark Bullock. who served as head football coach and head rugby coach for Kentwood High School in Kent, Washington, before becoming the USA Under-19 rugby coach-
“I always recommended that my football players play rugby if they were playing a spring sport”
In rugby, every type of player handles the ball at least a few times. Every player is expected to be able to pass and catch, tackle, and break tackles.
“You’ll have players tackling and trying to break tackles which is great for contact skills in the off-season”, said Dave Hodges, former pro football player and currently the captain of the U.S. national rugby team. ”They will be working on fitness and should continue on with their strength and explosive exercises. They will be handling the ball, which will benefit hand-eye coordination. If they want a sport that compliments football, rugby is much closer than the other sports played in high school.”
“The ball handling skills are almost unmatched in American sports”, explained Tom Billups, who was starting offensive lineman for Augustana college during the school’s 49-0-1 stretch in the 1990s. Billups later took up rugby and played professionally in Europe and for the USA. a record 44 times. A physical trainer by profession, he is currently the USA Rugby strength and conditioning coach. ”The development of the sense of space, timing, and teamwork are even greater than those in basketball. The total number of sets of hands that are involved in a well worked try (touchdown) is much greater than any in basketball.”
There are stoppages in rugby, but not after every tackle. A well-played game of rugby requires backs (the runners) and forwards (like linemen) to run great distances as they work to retrieve the ball and launch another attack. Playing that way for 80 minutes requires fitness that can only help an athlete when he plays football.
Athletes follow their role models. and it’s an unfortunate state of football that coaches are constantly trying to get their players to emulate what they see their heroes do in the game, but not what they do on the sidelines,
Rugby is a little different. Complaining to the referee, excessive celebration after scoring, and playing to the crowd may be discouraged in both sports, but in rugby it’s simply not part of the game at any level.
“From a culture standpoint, rugby can improve the American high school football in more ways than a coach can count”, said Billups. ”The mere fact that in rugby, you address the referee as “sir. Can you imagine that in American football? That there isn’t this “towel-whipping look-at-me behavior” we see kids emulating. Score a try, and leg it back to halfway to get ready to go again is the way it still is in our game. No touchdown dances or athletes taking off their helmets to show their mugs for the cameras.”
Rugby Helps Football
Can rugby make a good football player? Consider the story of Richard Tardits. He grew up playing rugby, then one day, as a student at the University of Georgia; he walked on to preseason football practice.
“He didn’t even know how to put his pads on”, said then head coach and now Georgia Athletic Director, Vince Dooley, “We put him in at tight end and asked him to fire out and block, and he fired out and tackled the guy. So we figured we better put him an defense pretty quick.”
As a linebacker who had never played gridiron before, Tardits learned quickly, and in one scrimmage sacked the quarterback five times. ”I gave him a battlefield promotion right there.’ said Dooley. “ I gave him a scholarship. He had explosiveness.”
Upon graduation, Tardits had made all-conference as a linebacker, and had set a record for sacks at Georgia that still stands; He went on to play in the NFL for New England and Arizona.
After his NFL career was over, Tardits returned to rugby, playing for the United States 24 times.