On any given Saturday, there are 150 to 200 youngsters in Dubarry Park in Athlone as part of Buccaneers mini rugby. 

The club’s commitment to getting players involved in the game from a young age is there for all to see. In fact, they have produced several players from their mini programme that have performed both on the provincial and international stage.

Connacht Rugby’s current captain, Jack Carty, started his rugby journey playing in those underage games for The Pirates, as did his brother, USA international, Luke. The likes of Robbie Henshaw, and current Connacht players, Darragh and Niall Murray, are just a few of the many high profile names that also got their first taste of rugby with Buccs.

Read more: Mini rugby in focus: An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí

However, as was pointed out by Rory Walsh, who is involved in organising Buccs rugby minis, mini rugby is about much more than performance on the pitch.

When discussing it, he said: “Minis rugby gives kids a chance to enjoy a great team and make new friends in a fun and safe environment where respect and the participation of all are the key values”.

“With mini rugby, we are trying to teach kids on how to work successfully as part of a team, by instilling a sense of respect in themselves and for others”.

Read more: Mini rugby in focus: Castlebar RFC 

This sense of fun and respect is plain to see for everyone involved in Bucc’s Saturday morning minis. The players, organisers and parents all get to experience and enjoy all that rugby has to offer.

“Coaches, the kids and the parents all work together to generate a great atmosphere on Saturday mornings. It can be a bit crazy at times but the smiles on faces at the end of the day makes the effort worthwhile”, Rory added.

There has been mini rugby in Athlone since the 1970s, with club stalwart Derry Fitzpatrick leading the way. In more recent times, Charlie Cooper is a name that has become synonymous with underage coaching in Buccaneers.

Read more: Mini Rugby in focus Galway Bay RFC 

Since those early days of mini rugby, Buccaneers has been welcoming players and volunteers and this is a tradition that is clearly set to continue into the future.

As Rory states: “We are always happy to see new faces on a Saturday morning whether its new players or new coaches. Everyone is welcome to give rugby a try!”.

Buccaneers mini rugby takes place every Saturday morning at 11am in Dubarry Park in Athlone. New players are always welcome.

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PICS: Aviva Stadium Half-Time Minis