Rugby is certainly not new to San Diego. For many years the region has been a hotbed of talent and has played host to competitions ranging from regional showcases to internationally-sanctioned matches, and everything in between.
Today, youth rugby is growing at a fantastic clip as more and more players flock to take part in a game of fitness, speed, skill, brawn, and agility. Thirty-five high schools, and counting, in San Diego County feature rugby as a school sport, including Cathedral Catholic, Torrey Pines, San Dieguito Academy, La Costa Canyon, Santa Fe Christian, La Jolla and Westview. A concerted effort is underway to bring the sport in line with the California Interscholastic Federation at the high school level.
The exponential growth of the youth game has cemented America’s Finest City as a hub of American rugby. The best part of this excitement around the game: Registration is now open for the U8, U10, U12, & U14 age groups of one of Southern California’s most successful youth rugby programs, San Diego Mustangs Youth Rugby.
If you are interested in checking rugby out, the Mustangs have made it easy to do so with their annual free demo day clinic to be hosted on Nov. 11 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Ocean Air Park in Carmel Valley. The free clinic is a great way for kids to see what the sport is about as Mustangs coaches, along with San Diego Legion professional players, will be teaching rugby basics, including passing, basic tackling skills, agility drills, and will put on touch, non-contact games for everyone in attendance. Registration for the U8, U10, U12, & U14 age groups is currently open through their website (sandiegoyouthrugby.org) to players of all skill levels.
San Diego Mustangs Youth Rugby (Mustangs), a North County-based club fielding teams for players of all skill levels from ages 5-18, has been a bellwether of youth rugby success for well over a decade, and continues to foster the growth of the game through its well-developed youth rugby program that includes free rugby clinics, strength and conditioning training, several camps throughout the year, domestic and international tours, and connections to college programs and college counseling. The club has enjoyed its fair share of success over the years, best evidenced by last season’s well-earned bounty of hardware: a national championship victory at the Under-18s level, a 100 percent win record against staunch Irish opposition in the club’s first international tour at the Under-14 level, and first-place trophies at the San Diego Cup, Cal State Games, and other summer “7s” tournaments across all of the club’s five age groups.
Needless to say, the Mustangs hope to carry that same vigor and excitement into their 15th anniversary season when practices start in late November. Started in 2004 under the guidance of French ex-pat Bruno Arturo, the Mustangs have grown from an original crop of 38 players and three coaches into a nationally-recognized program with more than 300 players and over 30 coaches from all over the world to its name. Their emphasis on growing a unique youth rugby culture centered around commitment, mutual respect, and teamwork has boded well thus far within a sport globally renowned for its reverence to sportsmanship and hospitality. The Mustangs coaching philosophy is based on the principles of the Positive Coaching Alliance - www.positivecoach.org.
“Rugby is fun for kids to play because everyone touches the ball, anyone can score, and every team needs a lot of different athletic skills and abilities, making it accessible to more than just a singular type of player,“ remarked Mustangs Club President David Pool. His enthusiasm echoes the sentiment of much of the organization as more and more get interested in one of America’s fastest growing sport.