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.

Every weekend, thousands of children, volunteers, coordinators, and parents take to rugby pitches across the province for mini rugby.

The idea behind minis is to introduce children to rugby, while sharing everything that is good about the game. In short, mini rugby is all about fun, participation, and inclusion.

A club where those elements are plain to see is Castlebar RFC.

The club, which is based in Cloondeash on the outskirts of Castlebar, welcomes children (along with their parents and volunteers) for an hour and a quarter of rugby fun every Saturday morning.

Over the past five years, the number of players registered from under 7 to under 12 with the club has grown from 85 to 180, with 40 girls included in that number.

Castlebar’s mini rugby coordinator, Declan Bourke,  discussed what children learn outside of the game when talking about the weekly training and games.

He said: “There were two lads on the u16 Connacht Development Squad, as well as two on the u17 squad, and all four came from the u8 minis.

“It’s great to see those players coming through, however, the main thing we are trying to communicate is that mini rugby is for everyone. We try to get across the spirit of teamwork, fun, respect, and inclusivity to all the children who join and play rugby with us.”

Declan was also keen to pay homage to the team who have helped Castlebar RFC’s mini rugby go from strength to strength over the past five years.

He added: “There is a group of about 20 volunteers who make mini rugby possible in Castlebar. A special mention should also go to Mairead Bradley who looks after the girl’s section and has put in trojan work last few years to grow it.”

Castlebar RFC minis takes place every Saturday at 10.30am in Castlebar Rugby Club, Cloondeash, Castlebar.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be focusing on other clubs around the province as part of our mini rugby series.

The recently formed Claremorris RFC have successfully completed their 1st Mini Rugby Sessions. (more…)

A fantastic match was played in the Sportsground on Sunday April 19th between Clanwilliam and Connacht U12 girls (more…)

Youth Sport West, Connacht Rugby and the Sligo SRP combined to run a blitz for National Schools on Thursday last. (more…)

Girls Leprechaun Rugby Blitz held in Athlone. (more…)

Westport Bulls U14 15 – 10 Buccaneers U14 (more…)

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