The nonprofit group Up2Us teamed up with Play Rugby USA Wednesday to teach the game to students at Alain L. Locke Magnet School for Environmental Stewardship in Morningside Heights. NY1’s Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
Rugby is a lot like American football, except for a lack of protective gear, the need to throw the ball backwards, and a lot more kicking on the field.
It's not as popular in the United States, but the game has been a hit with the students at Alain L. Locke Magnet School for Environmental Stewardship, who use the game as a way to let off steam.
“I like rugby because you can express your feelings and you can have fun,” said one student.
Others say the sport is boosting their confidence and grades.
“Before I did rugby, I didn't have enough energy to write and I used to get tired, but after rugby, it was fun and I just started doing my work and since I got my progress report, the grades got better,” said one student.
That's good news for Up2Us. The nonprofit group teamed up with Play Rugby USA to bring the sport to the school last year as a way to inspire students to do well in school.
Up-2-Us helps provide the volunteer coaches who also teach the students about teamwork, leadership and responsibility.
“Sports mean a lot. They are sometimes the biggest motivation for driving attendance up and for driving kids being on time, kids wanting to participate and help one another, making our schools safer because kids know how to get along with each other because they learn that through sports. They learn that through games like rugby,” said Paul Caccamo, executive director of Up2Us.
Organizers say the sport is having a big impact, especially on young girls.
“People say girls can't play sports, but rugby is showing that girls can play sports,” said one student.
“Historically, society has not really been a big proponent of these types of thing,” said Phaidra Knight, a Play Rugby USA coach. “This allows them to be themselves and express themselves in whatever way they want.”
It also allows all children to join in the fun.
For more information, visit up2us.org.