There are few things more important to the future of our sport than the hundreds of kids who turn out over the summers to learn about rugby, develop a passion for the game, and have fun. These young ruggers from ages 6 to 15 are learning the basics of catch and pass to valuable skills in leadership, communication, teamwork, persistence, mental toughness, and more. The Glendale Raptors Rugby Academy values these skills and the life lessons learned on the field above any scoreboard.
Every summer, the Academy participates at every level from U8 and U10 coed to U16 in the Rugby Colorado TRY sevens league. By introducing players to rugby through the Sevens format, we emphasize the core elements of the game in a much less chaotic environment that allows them to master the fundamentals of catching, passing, running, kicking, and the tackle. This year, Andre Snyman, head coach of Glendale’s elite men’s team and former international player with the South Africa Springboks, assisted our coaching staff and helped introduce new innovative techniques for coaching those fundamentals, attack, and defense, bringing an even higher level of skill and technique across the entire program.
Even as the program gained new kids and new coaches, several players who have been with the program for years graduated this year from TRY. Liam Peck, Gordy McGeehan, William Crocket, Grant Carey, Dominick Miller, Glen Hughes, Trevor Barrios and Devon Musselman all played their final TRY matches in Glendale colors and will now be moving on to high school level rugby after having participated in the Academy program for upwards of the last 7 years. Each of them will represent Glendale’s values and spirit on their respective squads starting this Fall and we wish them all the best. They will, of course, have the ability to eventually compete for selection on the newly established U20 side, beginning Fall 2016.
Outside of TRY, the Academy formed a brand new U14 squad to compete in the Rocky Mountain Challenge, a national competition with regional select side teams from all over the country. The U14 squad pulled players from three local TRY teams, including our own U15 squad, Weld County and Westside Rugby. These players put in extra training time every week leading up to the tournament to learn Rugby 10s, a style of play in between that of Sevens and full Union 15s. They competed against other regional Colorado teams and Indiana, even pulling off a momentous upset victory against the visitors from the Hoosier state. It was an incredible opportunity for every player to witness some of the best competition in the country at the middle school and high school level, make friends from a different state, and form new rivalries for the years ahead.
For the Raptors Academy it has been a successful and busy summer program so far focused on the future of our sport and changing the lives of the hundreds of kids who step out onto our fields every week. With the national high school camps for boys and girls right around the corner and the U20 squad set to begin this Fall, that future looks bright and Glendale is ready to help lead the charge.