Fun and Play with Tag Rugby
Recently, 11 teams from four Lewa sponsored schools took part in a tag rugby tournament in Lewa Downs Primary School, braving the scorching sun not only to compete but test their acquired skills in the sport. For the past three years now, these students have been practising tag rugby, a non-contact game in which each player wears a belt that has two tags attached to it, or shorts with patches. Attacking players attempt to dodge, evade and pass a rugby ball while defenders attempt to prevent them scoring by "tagging" – pulling the tag from the ball carrier, rather than a full contact tackle. The sport provides an innovative way to introduce children to rugby and cultivate love for the sport.
The teams consisted of both boys and girls of different ages. Each game lasted seven minutes and was characterised by numerous attempts at scoring and clever moves to prevent this by 'tagging'. Teachers and students cheered on loudly to encourage the players. Volunteers from Team Talk and Tag Rugby Trust took turns as referees. A total of 16 games were played with the Leparua Team emerging victorious, closely followed by the Arsenal Team that had players from both Lewa School and Kanyunga Primary School. Team Talk later on distributed a variety of gifts and rewards to the winning students.
Ronnie Okoth from the Tag Rugby Trust told us more about the game:
"Tag rugby was introduced in Kenya four years ago and we now have membership from 16 schools, four being Lewa sponsored. The Lewa students are very talented – we took a team to Nairobi last year to play against others from around the country and they did very well! Unfortunately, they have limited resources. "
Apart from encouraging sportsmanship, Ronnie was happy to note that tag rugby has increased appeal for contact rugby to the children. And what did he think the future holds for the players?
"Two students from Leparua Primary School who played tag rugby and are now in Nairobi School for their high school education have already joined the rugby team there. Nairobi School plays some of the best rugby in the country, and many from the school proceed to join the national team."
Rugby is a very popular sport in Kenya and the national team,Shujaas, has consistently performed well in international encounters. This year they took fourth place in Rugby World Cup Sevens.
Ronnie added that the students who don't continue on to play contact rugby engage in other sports having learned valuable lessons on teamwork and the importance of physical activity.