Thanks in large part to West U. resident and Challenger League supporter Joni Fichter, The Texas A&M Rugby Football Club and the Department of Recreational Sports has announced the first Rugby Challenger Game to be held during the Gareth Jones Challenge Cup on March 28 at the Penberthy Sports Complex on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station.
“We have searched via the internet to see if there was a rugby model we could follow, but couldn’t find anything. Luckily we got in touch with Joni Fichter down at the West University Little League Association and she has been able to assist us. Really this wouldn’t be happening without her,” said event organizer and TAMU Rugby Club President Nate Mentzer.
This event is designed to offer children with both mental and/ or physical disabilities with the opportunity to play rugby with assistance from their own “Rugby Buddy,” in this case, the men and women of the Texas A&M rugby programs.
The whole Rugby Challenge game is based on the Challenger concept developed in 1989 by Little League International. That program provided boys and girls with challenges the opportunity to experience the emotional development and the fun of playing Little League baseball. According to Mentzer, this will be the first Rugby Challenger game.
The event is intended for boys and girls ages 5 through 18 with either physical or mental challenges. The most fundamental goal of the Challenger Game is to give everyone a chance to play rugby and have a rewarding experience, regardless of limitations. This game enables every child the opportunity to participate in a structured athletic event and have a wonderful time. It provides the “Buddies” with an opportunity to see the many challenges that these players face on a daily basis.
Head Coach Craig Coates said, “I think this is just as big an event for our players as it is for the Challenger kids. I think everyone will take something positive away from the experience.”
Children will have the option of playing in the game or being a cheerleader, The World Famous Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band will perform the National Anthem and the Flags will be presented by The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. Carnival style games will be available before the game and lunch will be provided during the awards ceremony. Each participant will also receive a T-shirt, rugby ball and a participation medal.
“The Western Rugby Union is proud to support the “Rugby Challenger Game” being hosted by the Texas A&M University Rugby Club,” said West President Bill Sexton. “Texas A&M Rugby has a long history of civic responsibility and action, and they continue to set an example for other college rugby programs in the West. This event will enable these children to experience what we all love most about rugby – the camaraderie amongst participants, the thrill of competition, and the excitement of playing the game. I am confident that everyone will enjoy themselves, and that the day will be filled with memories for a lifetime.”
Interested participants should contact Johnny Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://aggierugby.com for the entry form and information. There is no fee for participation and no children will be turned away.