Israeli youngsters score another first

June 15, 2018 by Michael Kuttner
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The first ever Israeli school tag rugby championship organized by the Israel Rugby Union (IRU) was recently held at the Wingate Sports Institute…writes Michael Kuttner.

Rugby girls

As mentioned in an earlier report, Simon Kuttner, a Kiwi and fervent All Black supporter and a teacher at Rimon Waldorf School in Pardes Hanna has been instrumental in introducing pupils at his and other schools to a relatively new sport in Israel. Tag rugby is a non-physical form of the sport and is an ideal way to introduce rugby to participants in a non formal way allowing girls and boys to play together while learning the rules of team work and fair play. One of the main gateways for children to connect to local rugby clubs is through first playing tag rugby.

After having organised a local competition at his school, Simon was delighted to hear that the IRU intended hosting a national school competition.

Around eight schools participated and approximately 250 students from Grades 4 to 9 were involved. Rimon School, already infused with rugby fervor transported 120 pupils from Grades 6 to 10 to the grounds. Although not all were players, this ensured a good crowd of vocal supporters.

An added attraction was the presence of Israel rugby team players who put on a display of rugby skills which made a great impression on the teenagers. The IRU provided cups and medals for the winning teams. The aim is to hold further competitions amongst a wider number of schools and thereby introduce the concept of rugby to an increasing number of Israeli youngsters. Simon’s motivation is to eventually see rugby become a sport of choice for more schools and with the active support of the IRU this hopefully will be an achievable goal.

Meanwhile, despite only having been introduced to rugby four months earlier, thanks to Simon’s coaching skills assisted by Guy Gorfil, a former South African and father of a pupil, Rimon School won two trophies – the boys Grade 7 team and the girls Grade 7 to 9 team were crowned Israel tag rugby champions. Wearing their newly designed school t shirts (that had an added New Zealand touch – a silver fern) they came top of their competition. Needless to say, this generated great enthusiasm amongst all pupils and teachers alike.

Talking to Simon, he described how it has been an amazing experience for him to have brought his love of rugby to the school and to see how all the pupils have embraced it so enthusiastically and with such passion. In just 6 months, all the pupils and teachers at the school have caught the rugby fever. He plans to organize more local events between schools in the area and to continue to promote rugby in Israeli schools.

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