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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Youth rugby comes to Cottonwood Heights

Feb 03, 2022 10:32AM ● By Jerry Christensen

The Brighton Youth Rugby program will participate in a style of play called 7’s, which is 7 on 7 and allows for all players to carry the ball. (Photo courtesy Christine Yee, Brighton Rugby Club)

By Jerry Christensen | [email protected]

The Cottonwood Heights community will have a new staple in the youth sports scene this spring. The Brighton Youth Rugby program launches into its inaugural season. 

“This international sport is new to many Americans and may be perceived as a hooligan sport played by gentlemen,” said Jimmy McDermott, a former collegiate rugby player and founder of youth rugby in Cottonwood Heights.  

Cottonwood Heights is home to the Brighton High Rugby teams and Utah is known for many elite college rugby programs (The University of Utah and Brigham Young University) as well as a professional rugby team (The Utah Warriors). 

“Some of our Brighton high school players have played youth rugby with Olympus or the Rhinos out of Taylorsville,” said Christine Yee, the Brighton High Rugby Club advisor. “Others had never picked up a rugby ball until we recruited them in the halls of our school. Many of those players say that they had wished they started earlier. Beginning a Brighton Youth Rugby club here is huge for our high school team. Kids can learn the fundamentals while developing a love for the game. By the time those players get to us in high school, they already know the basics and have built their own pride in Brighton Rugby.”

First-time rugby spectators, quickly become enamored with the quick pace, teamwork, culture and strategy of the game. The object of the game is to advance the ball toward your opponent’s try zone (similar to a football end zone). The strategy involves drawing multiple opponents toward one ball carrier, who offloads the ball in a backward pass to an unguarded teammate who then continues to advance the ball forward. 

McDermott believes that “there is no other game that demands and builds as much character as rugby.” As soon as his sons (Deacon and Finn) were old enough, he got them into youth rugby and feels their athletic ability and coordination increased more from this sport than the many others in which they participated. With their recent move to Cottonwood Heights, McDermott decided it was time to start a youth program in the community that would help others learn the game that they have grown to love.  

The Brighton Youth Rugby program will participate in a style of play called 7’s, which is 7 on 7 and allows for all players to carry the ball. Game progression and play advances with each age group, starting with touch rugby at U6 (ages 5 and 6) then going to modified tackle starting at U8 with different elements of the game added at each level U10, U12 and U14. 

The rugby tackling technique that is taught to the young athletes has been implemented by the Seattle Seahawks, as well as many other professional and collegiate football programs to increase player safety and promote better tackling.

Registration is now open and will close in early April with practices starting late March/early April. Games will take place on Saturdays beginning on May 21 and running through June 25.

For more information, contact [email protected]