WORCESTER, Mass. - Over 300 boys and girls aged 5-19 filled Foley Stadium in Worcester, Mass in the 6th annual MA Youth Rugby Jamboree.
The event, the culmination of a summer camp, was hosted by the Worcester Rugby Football Club and featured flag and tackle rugby. WRFC together with Essex County, the Boston Irish Wolfhounds and Mystic River Rugby youth programs fielded teams from U9 to U19.
Worcester native Keith MacNeal, who acted as a coach and referee at the Jamboree also saw his three children through the WRFC youth rugby programs.
“It’s amazing looking at the (Worcester Men) senior side now and seeing guys that used to play in the youth programs,” Keith MacNeal told Central Mass News as he waited for his youngest son, Gavin, to play.
Five years ago, youth rugby was dead in Worcester, said MacNeal, a WRFC old boy. Today, Worcester boasts U9, U12 and U15 rugby along with boys and girls U19 teams.
“We’re trying to get rugby into mainstream athletics in Worcester,” Organizer and WRFC Old Boy Jamie Gniadek told Central Mass News. “We’ve gotten nothing but positive responses (from parents and kids). In some instances we have six generations of ruggers here and with kids returning from previous years it is becoming easier to coach,” he added.
(Edited reprint from www.CentralMassNews.com )