Rugby union is played by people of both sexes and all shapes, sizes, and ages. Whether it’s a schoolchild starting out, an older player who turns out regularly at the weekend, or a committed rugby club player, rugby is one of the most popular participation sports in the world.
Variations of Rugby
There are a number of ways to get started in the game of rugby, and for many people their first introduction to rugby is through ‘touch rugby’, which is a simplified version of the game that essentially requires just a ball, a few people, and an open space. There’s no tackling involved in touch rugby, so it’s very much just like playing the game ‘tick’, ‘tag’ or ‘it’ – which means players get the chance to work on their running and handling rugby skills without heavy physical contact.
Another variation of the game is ‘tag rugby’, which is a non-contact version of the game in the same way as touch rugby, but sees possession pass over when an opposing player removes a tag attached to the ball carrier. Tag rugby is slightly more physical than touch rugby, but if you wish to get a full taste of the physical side of the sport, then try out the seven-a-side and 15-a-side versions of the game.
How to get involved
There are plenty of local rugby clubs out there who are always willing to take in new members. If you’re in University or College there’s a good chance either will have a resident rugby team. Given the turnover of students, there’s a chance for everyone.
Don’t forget that rugby’s not just for the men! Women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing sports around, and each of the sport’s governing bodies has their own women’s sections – which will be able to provide you with information about the nearest rugby clubs to where you live, or just google it.
Rugby union is firmly established as a popular sport in the UK, as well as in nations such as Australia, New Zealand, France, Ireland, South Africa, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Argentina, Canada and Italy, who are the major powers in the world game. The International Rugby Board has suggested that the sport is played in over 100 countries by both men and women.
The origins of rugby football have been credited to schoolboy William Webb Ellis, who while playing Association Football in a game in 1823 at Rugby School in England, picked up the ball and ran with it. The Rugby World Cup trophy even bears his name to this day.
Health and fitness benefits of playing rugby
The health and fitness benefits of rugby include:
- Great sport for boosting upper body strength, with strong arms needed for tackling and throwing, and muscular strength required for this contact sport.
- Develops the leg muscles, with running and scrums needing powerful leg muscles.
- Improves flexibility, with the feet and hands requiring sudden changes of direction and pace.
- Improves the body's cardiovascular system with a strong heart and lungs able to deliver oxygen to muscles faster, through the bloodstream.
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