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Use the Rugby World Cup to inspire your kids

kidsIf you have a child you would like to get involved in rugby, then there’s surely no better opportunity to do so than through the upcoming Rugby World Cup, which will be held 18 September – 31 October 2015.

The Rugby World Cup will be held in England and will be one of the most-watched sports events this year.

With rugby heroes hitting our screens on a weekly basis, it is undoubtedly an opportunity for children to get excited about the sport and try to copy their heroes. So long as the players are representing themselves well, this can be a great opportunity to inspire the stars of tomorrow. After all, imitation is one of the ways that players progress and develop in a sport – by trying to imitate their sporting idols.

What do children want to imitate? Well, it’s the behaviour of adults they deem to be cool or who they respect in some other way. What goes in through the children’s eyes via the TV screen, or at rugby stadiums, becomes something that they want to emulate. So, get them watching matches and you may just have a budding rugby union player on your hands!

Of course, rugby isn’t for everyone and with some youngsters it’s best to accept that rugby just isn’t going to be their thing and to move on to another sport or hobby.

Rugby World Cup

rwcYour kids can help you choose who you want to follow in the tournament. Picking out a team from your own country along with one “other” is a good way to inspire the kids’ imaginations.

As things stand, the betting market for the rugby union World Cup 2015 with the exchange betfair and the major bookies have New Zealand at around 5/4 to win the tournament. Meanwhile, hosts England are at 9/2 followed by South Africa at 5/1. Australia are currently around the 8/1 mark but may prove better than this in practice.

The Wallabies are always hard to beat but particularly in a World Cup held on English soil. When England won their one and only World Cup to date, it was, of course, on Australian soil back in 2003 when Johnny Wilkinson’s famous last-ditch kick carried the day for the visitors. You can safely bet the Aussies would love to correct that particular reversal at Twickenham in South West London when the final will be played on Halloween.

What’s more, the Wallabies have been close to winning a large number of Rugby World Cups to date and have won two of them. In fact, from the seven World Cups held so far, Australia have won two, come second once, made the semi-finals on two occasions and the quarter final stage on the other two occasions.

Alternatively, how about France? Les Bleus are yet to win a World Cup but they’ve been close. They’re also always a surprise package. Few Kiwi fans will ever forget the 1999 World Cup when the French won against the All Blacks in the semi-final by 43 points to 31 at Twickenham.

On that occasion, France went on to lose the final against Australia. In fact, Les Bleus are the nearly men of the World Cups having made the final on three separate occasions only to fall at the final hurdle. In addition, they’ve made the semi-finals three other times and once “only” got to the quarter-final stage. For this year’s World Cup, they’re more or less completely unfancied but may surprise the rugby world yet again. Who knows?

Keep the Inspiration Going

These are some of the most-fancied tier one nations. But whatever team you decide to follow, imitation is the key. Putting your kids in the moment, in some way, and educating them about what’s going on is the key to inspiring them about our great game.

And everything follows from that kind of inspiration. Of course, the difficulty may come in maintaining that interest once the World Cup is over and the hype dies down – and we head into winter. So the trick here is to prepare for this inevitability well in advance.

If the kids join in a few training sessions and get to play the ball a little at a local club level, they’ll hopefully become hooked. Just remember in these early days that enjoyment is everything. As overly keen parents, many of us have a tendency to suck the fun out of games too much too soon – by getting our children to take any sport very seriously. So we should all remind ourselves that this is for the sheer fun of playing –rather than a serious attempt to become the next Jonah Lomu.

So if this is all about trying to get children to be top professional rugby players, then that’s generally not a laudable aim. Instead, if we make our goal one of enjoyment of playing the game itself for the sheer love of doing so – then this will carry them through to their 30s/40s having a great time doing what they love. They’ll also tend to be with a good peer group and getting lots of exercise into the bargain. If they happen to make it – all well and good. But if they don’t, they’ll have loved it all anyway and that’s surely the real goal here.


About Ellaine

Ellaine is the founder of FRN and author of “Mini and Youth Rugby: Complete Guide for Coaches and Parents” (published October 2015). She has been playing rugby union for over 10 years in the UK and the US for teams including Oxford University Blues, London Wasps, Henley, NOVA, and GWU. She has recently developed a love for rugby 7s and has played on several international rugby 7s teams. She also enjoys playing touch rugby and regularly plays for the FRN Mixed Touch Rugby team. She is passionate about helping others develop a love for rugby.

View all posts by Ellaine

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