Fun, inclusive and fast-paced are the words that come up most often when discussing sport of flag rugby. When you ask children what they think of the game, they often bring up the strong teamwork that is developed and the friendships they have gained.
Niagara Flag Rugby was founded in 2009 and has multiple teams in Niagara Falls, Stevensville, St. Catharines and Grimsby. Children participate in three age groups: junior kindergarten to grade two, grades three to five and the oldest for those in grades six to nine. Boys and girls play on the same team and learn to support each other in this highly aerobic sport. The season starts in mid-May, ends in mid-August, and includes five local tournaments. The cost to register is $90.
Like traditional rugby, flag rugby advances play by passing the ball backwards and running forward. Unlike traditional rugby, there is no tackling or body contact. Instead, players wear Velcro belts that have two long flags hanging from the players’ hips. When a flag is pulled, play does not stop. Instead, the ball must be passed within three steps or three seconds to a teammate.
Niagara Falls player Kerim Mostic had this to say about flag rugby, “You have to think outside of the box and think about what the other team is going to do. Develop strategies to get the ball to the other end of the field.”
Sterling Ryan, 13, has been playing flag rugby since he was seven. “I like running with the ball and passing it,” said Sterling. “I like practicing as a team and traveling to places to play with other teams.”
Meryem Alibegic, 12, started participating in flag rugby when she was in grade two and really likes the game. “It is fun. The competition is fun because it is nice to see how people play and the different strategies,” said Meryem. “I like learning new stuff and meeting new friends!”
To get in on the fun, check out Niagara Flag Rugby at www.niagaraflagrugby.com.