Bond of Brotherhood is Vital to Rugby Team Success

By Jeff Barton ’91 and Gord Wotherspoon, Lower School faculty and U13/U14 Rugby team coaches
Rugby is an important part of Crescent’s athletics culture, and it’s a centerpiece for many boys’ experiences here. Since my days as a Crescent student in the ‘80s, I’ve always felt that the rugby pitch was the best place to learn, with my brothers in arms!
For the past 15 years, we’ve been privileged to coach the U13 and U14 Rugby teams alongside Mr. Fisher. We’ve had a good run so far. The U14 team has won back-to-back championships and the U13 team won five out of the past six championships. But we believe success is about more than just winning.
Being part of a team means understanding that we all have success together and we will all have challenges, if not failures, together. Don’t get me wrong, we want to win – but there are many other great lessons to be learned on the rugby pitch.
Our team consists of roughly 30 Grade 7s (the U13s) and 25 Grade 8s (the U14s). The two teams play two very distinct games – U13s play seven-a-side rugby while the U14s play 13-a-side rugby – but they all train as one.
Now, if you know Middle School boys, you know that these two grades do not necessarily always get along or hang out together. Throw in a sport that most of the boys have never played before, that challenges their perceived notion of toughness, and you could have a recipe for disaster. What we love about coaching this team is that, due to the boy’s lack of experience with it, everyone is starting from the same place. Rugby is truly a sport that requires all kinds and sizes – short and squat, tall and lean, or anything in between.
We expect a lot from each and every boy who comes onto the pitch to play. Some of the best growth comes from the boys teaching each other. The U14 players, who often only have a year’s experience under their belt, are expected to set an example for the new players. You will see them leading warm-ups, demonstrating proper technique and constantly helping the newbies. These Grade 8 boys are expected to teach, support and befriend their Grade 7 teammates.
As a result, a special bond occurs over our rugby season – a bond of brotherhood. During practice, you will find the Grade 7s and 8s training alongside one another. If some players finished a drill early, they’ll encourage the other boys. Clapping on their teammates is an important part of the experience.
So if you happen to watch an U13 or U14 rugby game, don’t be surprised to see one team cheering on the other. That’s the sign of a successful team – one that learns from, supports and encourages its brothers.

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