And then my son wanted to play rugby...

A manual for parents of novice rugby players

The approach for this blog was to tell you what you need when you start playing rugby, but perhaps a story from a rugby mother who really had no idea what rugby was is a little more recognizable than a list of items that are essential. 

“Once you get your swimming diploma, you can choose a sport.” Thanks to a presentation during a sports day at school, it became rugby. As mentioned, I really had no idea about this sport, but the fact that it is a team sport and an outdoor sport was convincing enough. So we went with our 5-year-old son to the first rugby training for the guppies. I only learned after a few weeks that they were the guppies and that rugby is played in age groups. Thanks to a super enthusiastic coach and training in which the basic elements (throwing, catching, falling and getting up again) of rugby were taught to the little ones in a playful way, my son was infected with the rugby virus. A mouthguard and normal sportswear were really all he needed.

The first competition followed a year later. Actually, competition is a big word for the peat tournaments. A group of children who all want the ball and sometimes forget that they have to throw it backwards instead of forwards. Competitions mean club clothing, so the first set (shorts, socks and shirt) and basic shoes with plastic studs were purchased. This is different at every club, but usually you have to buy the socks and shorts and you will receive a match shirt (against a deposit). 

Not only did my son slowly learn the rules of rugby, but along the way my rugby knowledge also got a boost. It wasn't until the Cubs that things became more difficult. Hooker, flanker, backs, conversion, scoring, not rolling away; in short, I was lost. Fortunately, there was a Rugby World Cup on TV in which the various game elements were calmly explained. I had regained my knowledge and when people now asked along the line what the score was, I could finally tell how much it was instead of "they are ahead". Not only the rules of the game became clear, but also the unwritten rules of rugby. Don't get coffee in the canteen but in the clubhouse, the ref is always right even if your son really scores that disallowed try and we don't shout, but we encourage. 

The second son had now turned 5 and was just as much of a rugby fan as his brother. When the tournaments started for him, the logistical challenge on Saturdays started for us (1 away against Den Helder and the other a tournament in Den Bosch...). The games at the Cubs became more and more fanatic and intense. A broken finger, nosebleeds and other injuries became an annual regular occurrence. As a mother, I honestly had to find my way in this. When I wanted to run onto the field with a handkerchief for my teenager's severe nosebleed, "That's not cool, mom!", I resigned myself to the fact that injuries can occur. 

Ten years later and two concussions, 6 broken fingers, a broken ankle and nose, both sons are still fanatical rugby players and as a proud mother I can say that they are doing quite well. When they walk onto the field in an orange shirt, all the kilometers driven, emptied refrigerators, lost shoes and many injuries are forgotten. Moreover, the lessons of the guppies are; trial and error and respect for others is not only valuable on the rugby field, but also in real life. Also positive; I now understand all the rules (so there really is hope for every novice rugby mother), although the new 50:22 rule remains difficult..

The search for rugby shoes in France and only being able to order an All Blacks shirt online from an English store has led to an online and physical rugby store in the Netherlands. My husband and his eldest son founded Rugbymagazijn a few years ago. That brings me back to the reason for this blog: What do you need when you start playing rugby?  A bit is indispensable. Your son or daughter will probably lose more than ten, so a simple bit will suffice. Until about 7 years old, regular sportswear and basic shoes with studs are fine, but as they get older, a rugby shirt (also less likely to break), rugby socks and rugby shorts for training is nice. A storm top (keeps you dry and warm during training) is recommended. And then the shoes: rugby shoes are stronger than football shoes and ensure less chance of injuries. Up to and including the minis, playing on shoes with plastic studs is mandatory, only after that may rugby shoes with metal studs be worn. There is a specific pair of rugby shoes for every position, so feel free to ask for advice.

If you have other questions about rugby or would like more honest advice, we are happy to help! Because that is also rugby.

Rugby mom

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