Recreation

Youth rugby league aims to help grow game

HS journalism: First-year program getting positive reviews

Tavius Sykora-Matthess works with youth rugby players during a practice at the Lowe Park. (Morgan Flynn/Prairie senior)
Tavius Sykora-Matthess works with youth rugby players during a practice at the Lowe Park. (Morgan Flynn/Prairie senior)
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MARION — Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in America and youth in Marion are getting to learn about and play the unique sport.

“This is an exciting time for rugby, there are a lot of opportunities to be a trailblazer,” said Patrick Lausen, president of the Cedar Rapids Headhunters, an adult rugby team.

Marion Parks and Recreation has partnered with the Headhunters to host a six-week league geared toward young players, aged kindergarten through eighth grade.

The league was formed this summer after a successful rugby day camp hosted last year by the Headhunters. Using the young players as the driving force, the decision to continue to attempt to grow the sport in the area was made.

“I know my son who’s 5 is loving it and this is the first time he’s ever played it,” said Carrie Sarchett. “He goes home after and plays even more.”

Lausen, who doubles as a coach for the high school rugby team at Cedar Rapids Washington, sees the importance of getting youth involved early.

“In America, you grow up playing football so (when) you try to introduce rugby, it’s kind of hard sometimes,” Lausen said. “The earlier you get attention or get the game in front of people, the more you can get them to dedicate their time to the game.”

The sport includes aspects from football and soccer, both popular sports.

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“I like that when you play it there is a thrill,” said Frances Lausen, one of the few girls participating in the league.

Along with this opportunity for youth, there are opportunities for high school players and adults. For students, they can join an existing team or start a school program through the Iowa Youth Rugby Association. Adults can play for the Headhunters. who are a Division 4 team. That is the lowest division, meaning anyone can play for the Headhunters.

“If you’re athletic or not and you enjoy being in a team sport, this is a good opportunity,” Lausen said.

The youth league, which had around 35 participants, has received positive feedback and organizers hope to continue it and grow the sport locally in coming years.

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