802 Rugby Sits Down with Ilona Maher of the USA Women to Discuss Safety & Culture

Author: Joshua Cameron, Champlain College Men’s Rugby

In order to grow youth rugby in Vermont, it is 802 Rugby’s obligation to educate interested students and parents alike. Rugby often gets a bad rap, but why? The short answer is that the game is misunderstood. We recently sat down with Ilona Maher of the US Women’s Sevens Residency Program to learn how rugby has positively impacted her life and got some of her thoughts on safety & culture. Ilona is originally from Burlington, Vermont and graduated from Quinnipiac University prior to her time with USA.

You can watch the full interview below:

Rugby is a collision sport and players don’t wear pads, so it is perceived as being more dangerous than other sports. Yet, according to a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2008, US collegiate rugby was found to have a similar game injury rate in comparison to US collegiate soccer and a lower game injury rate than collegiate American football.

“To our knowledge, this study provides the largest prospective cohort of collegiate rugby union in the USA to date. Our data indicate that US collegiate rugby union has a similar incidence and severity of injury to published rates for US collegiate soccer and a much lower game injury rate than collegiate American football…”

Kerr HA, Curtis C, Micheli LJ, et al. Collegiate rugby union injury patterns in New England: a prospective cohort study. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2008; 42:595-603.

Safety is a top priority for all coaches working to grow the game of youth rugby in Vermont, but it doesn’t stop there. Even at the USA Rugby level, safety is a top priority. All coaches, from the elementary to the professional level, must be at least USA Rugby Level 200 Certified to coach contact. You are also required to have your SafeSport & Concussion Awareness certificates.

Beyond safety, rugby provides students with a community. Unfortunately, rugby culture is something that is also misunderstood. The beauty of rugby culture isn’t about drinking or partying, but having an open and accepting community supporting you. Rugby supports all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, etc. and there is a place for everyone on the pitch. Another fun fact? The rules in men’s and women’s rugby are exactly the same. No restrictions are added to the women’s game to inhibit the speed or physicality of play.

Support is a theme on and off the pitch. Running through a defense line solo is usually difficult, so it’s important to have another player behind you supporting. This concept taught on the pitch translates into the real world. You’ll find that no matter how difficult things become in life, your teammates will always be there to support you just like they were on the pitch.

Rugby is more than just collisions. It’s about working as a unit to avoid contact. It’s a game of decisions based on situational awareness and it requires continuous communication. It teaches respect, self-awareness and promotes a community of acceptance.

Interested in learning more about the sport? Are you searching Google for “youth rugby near me”? If so, 802 Rugby has you covered. We’re here to help you answer any questions or concerns you may have about the game, or help you/your child find opportunities to give rugby a try! If you need to get in touch, just click the button below, fill out and submit the form.

References

Kerr HA, Curtis C, Micheli LJ, et al. Collegiate rugby union injury patterns in New England: a prospective cohort study. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2008; 42:595-603.

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