2017 brought us our 5th season of non-contact, coed Tag play and our first to offer boys tackle rugby, forming both 5th-6th and 7th-8th grade teams. This summer was a ‘transition season’ as most of the boys had never played an organized tackle sport before. Our resolve was tested and the boys came through brilliantly. The kids had a ton of fun – many stating they had more fun than they thought they would and parents were pleasantly surprised to discover it wasn’t in fact such a violent game. Other than some heat issues and bruised pride, there were no significant injuries or concussions for any of our kids – this was a great growing experience for everyone that stuck through it.
A season’s worth of exciting photos, many taken by professional photographers, are on display here: Flickr: SYA Rugby
This picture, taken at the State Tournament, is one of my favorites. This is how players are supposed to build strong bonds of friendship together. This is the supportive feeling they should have as members of a team. This is where they feel they have purpose and belong. This is rugby. Moments like this should be valued over any win or trophy. This is the true measure of a successful youth program. Learn more about our 2017 State Tournament experience: click here
Thank you parents and volunteers for raising your hands and helping out. Team managers (Ire, Nicole, Heather) were helping behind the scenes, hospitality tent efforts (Lemkes, Martins, Ninos, Dana & Richard Lewis, and many others), Eric Richmond for always being around to help, our board members (Craig, Katie, Jonny & Richard) for year-round efforts, and all of our coaches that spent a lot their personal time ensuring everyone had a great time, Your individual contributions combine in group efforts that keep this program going and provide a unique experience!
Thank you parents for taking time off this summer to ensure your kids arrived on time, had clothes & uniforms to wear, water bottles at the ready, and patiently waiting for schedules to be released. I know several of you rushed back from vacation just so your kids could attend an event. You’re the unsung, thankless heroes of youth sports. Bravo parents! Additionally, our coaches were humbled by the end-of-season gift – truly generous and considerate. Grazie!
Rugby is a game of great character and SYA is lucky to be blessed with quite a few families and kids that have an over abundance of it! Congratulations to Coach Tom Phipps, his sons Ian & Sam, and Nicole Mueller as each were nominated for the Fairfax County Champion of Character Award. Coach Tom is an excellent representative of everything organizations should seek in their volunteers and SYA Rugby has been blessed to have him & his sons for being a part of ours. Ian & Sam were instrumental as youth coaches in serving as mentors and excellent role models for their players and Nicole is a 2nd grader demonstrated her leadership both on and off the field, patiently taking new players under her wing as well as bonding with her teammates. Each of these individuals are excellent examples of what it means to be a rugby player and a valuable contributor to the rugby community.
Finally, a very special thank you to the coaches and volunteers that help in the program that don’t have kids of their own participating. This is an amazing sacrifice for which I am truly grateful. Coaches Susie, Jenny, Veronica and Tim helped out with our tackle kids making sure they had a good time while emphasizing safe techniques. Coaches Sam & Ian (both middle school boys) were able to match the high energy & short attention span of the 1st & 2nd graders – sometimes without another coach present. Lucas decided tackle wasn’t for him but wanted to stay involved so became a referee … including officiating several games in the State Tournament. I think this is a great way to keep youth involved and hope that we are able to offer these opportunities each season.
My deepest gratitude for everyone that helps make this program a great experience for our kids and their families.
Our coaches worked diligently to provide a fun, positive sports experience for the kids. Each week we communicated game results and practice plans to each other, across age groups, to ensure everyone was working together and things were going smoothly. The emails below were shared between coaches after the state tournament – can you pick up the common theme? Call it our own WikiLeaks expose!
The 1st-2st grade kids played a great set of games, finishing up the tournament a solid 2 and 2, and winning the final “Shield” match. We lost our first game against a very evenly matched Great Falls team, the final whistle blowing with our tying score just steps from the try zone. We won our second game against Springfield, executing great passing and consistently finding the edge. While losing our third game, the kids never gave up and showed true grit against a very solid Alexandria side. With a three way tie for second in our pool going into the playoff round, point differential put us into the “Shield” Match against the second Alexandria team. The kids finished strong, showing great defense and making clean passes in our last game, resulting in a victory. Great team effort!
Man, I am so proud of those kids.
Our 3rd and 4th grade (SYA1) went 3-1 in pool play which culminated with a win over Western Suburbs (crazy end of the game where the horn blew right as they had a breakaway run). Funny enough, we had thought we were BEHIND by one point, not ahead (I’d counted one of their kicks, but the ref said it went wide), so we were rushing against time to try to score again. If we would’ve known we were ahead, we probably wouldn’t have even kicked off after our last try.
Fell short in the Plate championship 42-10. By then, we were just too gassed. Physiology caught up with us. And we played a team with 15 players. Phillip could hardly walk with cramps in his calves and heels, Seth hurt his knee, Beckett took a knee to the nose, and Caleb was dying with cramps. All of our speed players were hobbled, so we had very little outside protection against their speed. But those kids played amazing. Even hurt, they had the passion to keep going. I told all the kids that every single one of them should sleep good. To go up against such odds and do so well shows that they had the HEART of a rugby player. They played like a TEAM and never gave up. We were a different team from what we were even two weeks ago.
Our other 3rd and 4th grade team (SYA2) got off to a poor start (lots of nerves…) and dropped their first two games against Vienna 1 (Cup runner-up) and SYC 1 (Plate winner). After lunch, SYA2 regrouped and played with confidence, offloaded quickly, and got to the edges to find running room. We squeaked past Alexandria 2 (by one point!) and opened up against Great Falls to earn a spot in the Bowl Match. As I coach, I could not be more pleased with the players’ resilience, they know they started slow, but stayed positive and built back their confidence as the day went. We met West Suburbs in the Bowl Match, a team we struggled against two weeks ago during festival play, but we played our best rugby of the season and won a very challenging match, with EVERY player contributing.
I really could not be more pleased with our tournament experience, and that has little to do with the results. I am so proud how the players were able to work through the early struggles and re-focus on executing well as a team. Sport is an analog for life, and I am glad we were able to provide such a compact, yet complete, experience for our children. Hollywood could not have scripted a better weekend.
SYA Tackle Teams
The 5th-6th graders got off to a bit a rocky start after playing the top-ranked Vienna team for the first game but even though our team is still very new to tackle, they played a cleaner game and were hardly penalized compared the more experienced Vienna. Despite playing from behind, they kept their heads up and continued to try to tackle and pass. I think this game is just chucked up to Vienna’s experience over ours. As we did in the regular season, we combined with FPYC & Great Falls to round out a full team.
The team started out strong in the second game and showed improvement from the first game by supporting their teammates and getting to the rucks faster, but in the end the heat got to us and some speedy Loudoun players got ahead with a few breakaways. They didn’t give up there though and picked it up as the day went on. The backline started to gel more, they all started trusting their teammates and setting the ball while letting a teammate ruck over them. We got our first try of the tournament and saw a good amount of improvement. There were some great tackles and a starting form of a back line.
Our final match was a wild card game, the boys really picked up intensity and left it all on the field to try to get to the Bowl match, but unfortunately was edged out by Alexandria. Everyone was hot and tired by the end, but each player still wanted to get as much playing time as possible not matter what the scoreboard showed, some of them were already asking about next season at the end of the day. The beginning of the season to the final game of the tournament was like night and day, we now have a great basis to build from and will only continue to improve and keep having fun!
It makes me incredibly happy that kids were asking about next season since most of them are in 5th grade and will be staying in the same age group. I think if we can get a couple scrimmages in the Fall and a handful of scrimmages and practices in Spring, we could really come out with a bang next Summer.