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For area youth, rugby is a fun, safe alternative to football

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youthrugby6 Bill LeConey/Bill Sproule from Galloway catches a pass during last Saturday’s Youth Rugby League. GALLOWAY – Rugby is known as a rough and tumble sport, and there was a lot of tumbling going on last Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park.

The rough stuff? Not so much.

More than 30 children ages 6-14 are playing a kinder, gentler version of the sport - non-tackle, co-ed, tag rugby – in an eight-week league/clinic organized by the Jersey Shore Rugby Club. Participants in three different age groups are taught rugby basics and play two-hand touch inter-squad matches.

“It’s good, it’s fun, they’re enjoying it, and we’re having a good time,” said Jersey Shore Rugby Club president Dr. Jay Zimmerman.

For parents who had to be convinced that rugby is safe enough for their children, Zimmerman has one key selling point: “Because it’s tag, there’s no concussions,” he said. “A lot of parents are pulling their kids out of football, and they’re looking for something else to do. As I tell parents, ‘You could have your kids run around, enjoy a sport that’s like football, only he or she is not going to get any head injury.”

Jersey Shore Rugby is also putting together a high school team for next year, so the youth rugby league is serving the youngsters as a foundational experience for that.

As for real, contact rugby – which has been called the “toughest sport in the world” – there will be plenty of that played on the adult level this weekend. The Jersey Shore Sharks will host The Atlantic City Rugby Invitational on Saturday, May 3, at the Watering Hole Tavern, 6494 Weymouth Road in Mays Landing.

The Sharks will go up against teams from Canada, Vermont and Philadelphia. Matches start at noon and go until 6 p.m. A beef and beer fundraiser will take place from 1-4 p.m., and there will be a post-match rugby party with all the rugby “shenanigans,” whatever they may be.

Admission for the rugby matches is free, and the all-you-can-eat Beef and Beer is $20 per person. For more information call Dr. J. Zimmerman at 609-652-6363 or visit www.JerseyShoreRugby.com.

youthrugby1 Bill LeConey/More action from last week's Jersey Shore Youth Rugby League in Galloway. youthrugby2 Bill LeConey/Chloe Cooke from Galloway runs with the ball during a drill at Saturday’s Youth Rugby League. youthrugby3 Bill LeConey/Children in the Youth Rugby League run a drill directed by Dr. Jay Zimmerman. youthrugby5 Bill LeConey/The Jersey Shore Youth Rugby League players and coaches rest for a photo during drills last Saturday.

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