Leinster Girls coaching officer Niall Kane discussing training techniques with a group of Roscrea RFC Girls u12s players.
Minis rugby has always been a very important part of Roscrea rugby club, in recent years it has experienced an explosion in popularity with large groups of enthusiastic children training weekly and enjoying the game. When the current pandemic hit, the resulting guidelines and restrictions meant that the club was faced with a situation where adapting and improvising were the key to maintaining this progression. As a result, through meticulous planning, diligent endeavour and consistently making decisions with player welfare and safety as a priority, the Roscrea RFC minis section has experienced an unexpected growth in numbers during the pandemic.
Rugby, even for young players in the normal course of training and playing the game is a very physical sport, every part requires some level of personal contact with teammates and the opposition. As such Rugby has been more adversely affected by the current non-contact protocols and guidelines for participating in sport. The implementation of a program that avoids the fundamentals of the sport while still maintaining the core elements is a challenge in itself. This has called for positive lateral thinking and the use of all the assets available to their very best potential.
The Minis group at Roscrea RFC decided at an early stage that a concerted team effort was necessary to navigate the current situation. Not only was it important to have a unified training plan in place but it was also critical to maintain the trust and confidence of the parents and players involved. Roscrea RFC covid officer Serena Cooper Brady and her team, Roscrea boys minis coordinator Denis Delaney and girls minis coordinator Ciara Maher worked on a strategy to facilitate training in an orderly and safe fashion. Staggered starting times separated training zones and mandatory online covid forms before training all helped to provide a safe environment while gaining the confidence of the parents bringing their children to the club. During a short stage of the Local Co Offaly lockdown in October the club found itself in the unusual position of having to provide training to minis players from 3 separate counties in 3 different locations, a logistical challenge that was met with enthusiasm and efficiency. Another key element to the plan was a commitment to keep parents as well as the local public well informed on all the activities and safety procedures in place at the club. The clubs PRO was tasked with keeping the message consistent, precise, and positive.
With many local schools currently postponing any internal rugby coaching, the Roscrea RFC leinster rugby community officer Ger Stone found increasingly creative methods of using his coaching skills while bringing new players to the club. He visited schools providing promotional leaflets and invites while making himself available to meet with new players and parents arriving at the club for the all-important first introduction and impression. As part of his commitment to the minis groups he covered the weekly Sunday morning training sessions, always making himself available to help coaches on a practical level and as a resource for new methods and games to maintain the enjoyment level for players.
Many important lessons have been learnt at the club during this pandemic. A realisation that having committed and dedicated people in positions of authority is crucial to a continuation of the sport in turbulent times. It is the personnel involved who are the true assets at any club. “Public Perception” and how the club is generally viewed is a huge and often ignored element in keeping everyone happy and involved. Gaining and maintaining the trust and confidence of Parents, Coaches and players is a massive factor in a club’s growth and prosperity and can have unforeseen positive consequences. As an example, minis rugby in Roscrea has experienced an unexpected influx of financial sponsors with local businesses, RAE Auto factors, Mulrooneys Inver oil, The Lunch Bag childrens school lunches and Milltown Garden Centre all delighted to be associated with the Minis section of the club.
At a time when there are very few extracurricular activities available for school aged children, a positive sporting outlet has never been more important. No matter what the current situation is, honesty, integrity and respect, the fundamental virtues of rugby are reassuringly constant. As a club and as a facilitator of sport for children, we have a morale obligation to uphold and honour these virtues. When we speak of the intrinsic positives of playing the sport, the physical and mental health benefits, the lessons from being part of a team, of developing commitment, resilience, and humility. When we portray these attributes to parents we do so to an already captive audience.
Roscrea RFC are moving forward despite the trying times we find ourselves in. At some stage in the near future the current pandemic will end, and a sense of normality will prevail. The club and its resilient volunteers will have learnt much from the experience and will be all the stronger for it!
For more info on Roscrea minis, contact
Ciara 087 2024936 GIRLS MINIS
Denis 087 8348424 BOYS MINIS
Ger Stone 083 0402020 Community and Schools officer