The Fort Hunt Rugby Philosophy
Our overall philosophy for Fort Hunt Rugby is as basic as it can be: have fun and play fair. If the players are not having fun, then the program is failing, and we go nowhere. Winning is more fun than losing, of course, so we coach the desire and drive to succeed, but within reason.
If players are not playing fair, we adults are not doing our jobs as coaches and role models, throwing in those positive life lessons which pay off years down the road.
Our program is about learning the game of rugby, specifically its unique skills and also its unique traditions as a highly social lifetime sport.
Our program is not really about fitness, although all players who participate consistently and apply themselves in training and in matches will exit the season/program considerably more fit than when they entered. We do not emphasize laps around the field, wind sprints, suicides, grass drills, the kind of repetitive and uninspired physical training that unfortunately too many kids think of when it comes to organized sports. Fitness is important, of course, and the more fit a player is the better he/she will perform, but it’s not the core of what we are doing in Fort Hunt Rugby.
Our focus is on introducing the sport of rugby to novice players, and improving the skills of returning players. We focus on the unique basic skills of rugby (passing, ball handling), safety in contact, as well as the basics of the Laws of the Game, and the unique aspects of rugby (vocabulary, socializing, respect for the referee). Training focuses on skill development, and player development.
This means understanding and abiding by the rugby Laws of the Game (the rules). We will play hard, and we will take it to our opponents to the best of our abilities, but we will never train or play unfairly, cheat, or play in an unsportsmanlike manner. Unsportsmanlike behavior and foul play will be dealt with immediately by coaching staff and referees. Sanction for this behavior can be consultation with parents, suspension from training and/or matches, official sanction and suspensions from our governing bodies, up to and including ejection from matches, official sanction/suspension, and/or removal from the program.
Safety is a paramount concern, for all players. Rugby is a full-contact sport, after all. Our coaches are specifically trained and nationally certified in teaching the safe contact aspects of rugby to players new to the game, and we spend a great deal of time training in the safe execution of tackling, being tackled, and recurring contact engagements such as scrums, rucks and mauls. This is also part of all coaches' mandatory recurring training to maintain our national-level certifications as rugby coaches.
If a player has not demonstrated the ability to safely play in full-contact tackle rugby, Fort Hunt Rugby coaches will not allow that player to play, in the interest of his/her own and other players’ safety.
All players will show respect for their teammates, opponents, coaches and supporters, and especially toward all officials. Any form of disrespect to an official is a very serious offense in rugby, and will not be tolerated.
Disrespect to a teammate, coach or official is a violation of the Fort Hunt Rugby player code of conduct.
A portion of the Fort Hunt Rugby registration process is the reading and acknowledgement of the player, coach, and parent/spectator codes of conduct, in which respect is emphasized repeatedly.
As rugby is a full-contact sport in which players wear no padding or the kind of personal protection prevalent in other contact sports, the nature of contact is different. Players must learn and keep foremost in their mind self-control. This is the self-control to:
- Maintain full control over one's body
- Tackle but not strike
- Enter into contact with appropriate force and drive but not with reckless abandon
- Moderate contact to minimize danger to self, teammate and opponent
- Maximize tactical advantage
- Recognize and channel appropriate, game-focused enthusiasm/aggression to help the team and yet not give in to anger, unsportsmanlike behavior, foul play, penalties, or open oneself, a teammate, or an opponent to injury
Being Part of Something Bigger than Yourself
Many popular team sports tend to focus on a single position as a marquee position, and therefore the players who play that position tend unfortunately to become THE player the team goes to and relies on. Rugby is vastly different in that there is no marquee position. Each position has a function and responsibility, and each player must play offense, defense, carry the ball, tackle and make countless individual decisions to benefit the team. Rugby is a player-centered, non-specialized team sport, in which the whole--when working properly--truly is greater than the sum of its parts.
Rugby is a very unique sport in that it really is all about teamwork. The best rugby teams are those in which unselfish play is the norm. The best rugby players draw defense to them, bringing the opposition close to draw a tackle, to create space for their teammates to receive the ball and then exploit. The best rugby players are the ones who do not focus on the ball, but focus on the myriad other actions on the field that can maximize the team’s opportunities.
Individuals do not score, or win; the team scores, and the team wins.
Being the best rugby player you can be means realizing your strengths and weaknesses, and integrating both of those with those of the other players on the field with you. You are a single team, and the team is one of many the club incorporates, and your strength comes from making yourself part of something bigger than yourself. When everyone contributes fully their share in this environment, many individuals become one unit, and it is impressive and highly enjoyable to watch in action.
One club, many teams
We are Fort Hunt Rugby. We have novice and highly experienced players. We have youngster-freshmen, old-timer/seniors and youth/middle school players. We are a single club, and all are equal members.
We often practice together, as a club, with the experienced players—regardless of age—acting as mentors and role models assisting the novices. We sometimes train together (non-contact) at the same ground as a club with the experienced players serving as role models for the new players, with older players serving as role models for younger players. We foster a sense of history, and a sense of the future, investing in our up and comers as the next wave of varsity champions. We play as separate teams, but we are one club, Fort Hunt Rugby.