Rugby mum

The quality of their coffee: How to find a rugby club that fits?

The quality of their coffee: How to find the club that fits?

Finding the right rugby club can all feel a bit daunting. You might know that a local club exists but may not feel confident enough to just rock up with a pair of boots.

There’s a lot to consider when you decide to sign your child up to a rugby club. Outside of school, you will end up spending many hours – not only at the club – but with the club community. So do your research to make sure it’s a good fit for you as a family.

I often wonder what would have happened if I wasn’t made to feel as welcome when I first brought my son to his club when he was just five. A friend had suggested the club to me, so taking her word for it, I called them up and was invited by one of the secretaries to just ‘come along’. But for me, that was the most daunting part. We didn’t know anyone there, had never stepped foot at a rugby club, and unlike other classes and groups we had attended, I wasn’t greeted by a smiley salesperson bearing a welcome pack.

It took some work for both my son and I to get out of our comfort zone, and despite setbacks, losses, and wins, we are still at Syston RFC seven years later.

I’m very grateful that it was and is a good experience and my son has always felt part of the team. But admittedly, not everyone has the same experience when looking for a club.

Sam Johnston, Leicester Tigers Inclusive Rugby Development Officer actively works to introduce children from diverse communities to rugby. “You can’t consider your child without considering yourself,” said Sam. “The environment of a rugby club must be good for the player and the family as a whole.”

I asked Sam for some pointers on what parents should look out for before they sign up to a club.

Word of mouth: Like I did, it’s always worth asking someone who might already be in the know. Do you know other rugby parents? Or does your child have friends who play for a club? Being part of the rugby community means that you will soon make friends with people from all backgrounds, but at least initially, it helps to recognise a friendly face. You may want to ask a trusted sports teacher if they can recommend a club in the area.

Coaching: The coaching team will not only establish the culture of the team, but will become a very dominant influence for your child. “See how the coaches are with the players,” says Sam. “Do you feel that they are inclusive and make every child feel part of the team? Also take note of how many players are in the team. Does every player have an equal opportunity to play?”

Distance: Though travelling to a club on a Sunday morning might sound like a breeze, consider you will inevitably spend much more time ferrying your child to and from the club as they get older—from games to mid-week training and social events.

Rugby parents: “Is there a culture of friendship and inclusivity amongst the parents?”, says Sam. “See if the families stick around to have a drink or some food after a game. Have a chat with some of them to see what they’re like. And also find out if they are supportive of other activities outside of rugby.”

The quality of its coffee: Okay, that’s only half true…I have yet to visit a club where they actually serve good coffee (Please do let us know if you’ve found one). But seriously, food and drink is a factor. My son is a vegetarian so it’s a relief that especially at home games, the volunteers in the kitchen ensure that there is always something hot and filling for him to eat afterwards. Simple and thoughtful things like this demonstrate how the club is invested in its players and make them feel more wanted.

In for the win: “Don’t just look for the team that’s just about winning,” says Sam. “It’s always fun to win, but at what expense? Does the club play all of its squad and value them equally? The true values of rugby are teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline, and sportsmanship, so if your club stands by these values you’re already winning.”

Let us know your thoughts on what makes a brilliant rugby club