Saturday was an awesome learning experience for players who have never played contact rugby.
Our entire club was at the Pat Ryan rugby field. U8s to u14 played in panthers colors while our JVs and Vs played under the Liberty colors.
We had an amazing day at Liberty with the U10s, we fielded two teams both of who played exceptionally well and enjoyed a great morning of rugby with Liberty.
At the u12 level instead of the usual 2 halves we asked for 3 periods so that during the breaks we could help our players identify areas to improve. It was great to see how the players improved during the game.
For our U14, it was a special game against Liberty, since we have been teaming up with them for the last 2 years, and it is thanks to them that we are finally able to field a Panthers U14 team this year.
For many of our boys it was their first game, and they were at first surprised by the intensity at the U14 level. Liberty had experienced and intense players, which immediately challenged our defense.
Gradually, the Panthers stepped up to the level of Liberty, challenging them and getting close to scoring on several occasion. In the end, we offered a solid opposition to Liberty, and were recognized after the game for having a strong organization on the field, which our boys should be proud of.
What we’re most proud of is that they played hard until the very last minute, kept their head up, and really came together as team, supporting each other against a stronger and more experienced opponent.
Our new players also got to appreciate the feed and the post-game camaraderie with Liberty, and celebrated Nathan for winning man of the match!
Somewhat unique to Rugby is that game shirt numbers actually relate to a position on the field. Last week, coaches reviewed positions with players at practice – here is a little of what they learned.
Players are divided into Forwards and Backs – The Forwards consist of numbers 1 – 8, and the Backs are 9 – 15.
It is the Forwards’ job to win and retain the ball, and work together to drive the team up the field toward the try line.
1 & 3: Loose head prop & Tight head prop: Along with the Hooker, they make up the front row. Their main jobs are to support the Hooker in the scrum, and they often lift the jumpers in the lineout.
2 – Hooker: The Hooker is responsible for winning the ball in the scrum – they use their foot to ‘hook’ the ball out. They also traditionally throw the ball in at lineouts.
4 & 5 – Left & Right lock: Together the locks make up the second row of the scrum. They bind to the front row and function as the motor to drive the whole scrum forward. They are also usually the jumpers for lineouts.
6 & 7 – Blindside & Openside flanker: With the Number 8, these players make up the back row. Their role key role is to win possession through turnovers. These positions are not played in U12 games.
8 – Number 8: Completing the back row, the Number 8 player controls the ball at the back of the scrum, and will sometimes pick up the ball from the base of the scrum and carry it forward. This position is not played in U12 games.
Speed and agility are typical characteristics of strong Backs. Their main jobs are to run the ball up the field, and kick for goal.
9 – Scrum half: The scrum half is the link between the forwards and the backs. They feed the ball into a scrum and pass it out to the backs.
10 – Fly half: This player tells the backs where to go during a ruck, lineout and scrum. They receive the ball from the scrum half, and move it down the back line. They often handle penalty kicks.
11 & 14 – Wings: When on offense these players use their speed to score tries, and on defense they cover holes if the opposing team gets through the defensive line.
12 & 13 – Inside & Outside center: This player’s role is to get the ball out to the Wings. They also line up against the player of the same number on the opposing team to break their defensive line, or to draw opposing players and create space and try scoring opportunities for their teammates.
15 – Full back: This player is the last player in the line of defense, so they have to be fast. They typically field the opponents kicks, and have a good kicking game.
As you can see, there are a wide range of positions on the team, and each come with their own physical requirements. There are positions for players that are short and stout, tall and slim, strong, agile, jumpers and speedsters. Teams need to work together with players in each of these positions to win the match.