Spotlight on Successful DFW Youth Programs
Today, Major League Rugby announced the addition of Guy Hagen as the League’s Director of Youth Development and a Grassroots Development program. The Greater Dallas/Fort Worth Area has many long running, well known rugby clubs spanning all age ranges, including two successful youth clubs focused on providing instruction and guidance to youth players: the NTX Barbarians and Plano Rugby Club.
Formed in 2012, the North Texas Barbarians was founded by Mark Kissinger and Jim Loggins and is based in Celina, Texas. Over the last eight years, the NTX Barbarians have grown at an exponential rate. Taking it back roughly 20 years, Mark and Jim met playing together for Denton Rugby Club and later reunited on the pee wee football field both coaching their sons. At the time, Jim mentioned his desire to have a rugby club in Celina.
NTX Barbarians started out with eight kids with a simple goal of getting out and playing rugby. Since inception nine years ago, the club has grown exponentially to over 200 kids across all age groups. Club President and Director of Rugby Mark Kissinger said, “our goal has become to be one of the few “cradle to the grave” rugby clubs in the US.”
Kissinger continued, “We empower kids to make decisions on the pitch, and we do that by training decision-making in every single training session we have. This has been the main reason for our growth.Kids come to us from other sports where they are constantly told what to do, and, in contrast, we give them the tools to learn what works best.”
In 2017, the club was named Youth Program of the Year by Rugby Texas and formed the first middle school girls team in Texas. Recently, NTX Barbarians fielded their first Varsity level side.
While NTX Barbarians have had tremendous success on the pitch at all levels, their main goal is to develop great young men and women that have a positive impact on their community. If you are interested in learning more about the NTX Barbarians or joining the club, visit ntbarbarians.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plano Rugby Club was founded in 2000 by Frank Waller and Nick Marketos with the main goal of providing an opportunity for high school aged boys to play rugby. As time passed, the club began to offer youth teams and then quickly offered a girls program. Currently, they are the largest youth rugby program in DFW.
Frank Waller, Director of Rugby says, “Rugby is a family. We want to provide more than rugby but a place for kids to play and learn a new sport.” Frank knew all too well that more opportunities for youth rugby was needed in the DFW area. As a teen, he played with a men’s team since a club was not available for his age group.
Plano Rugby Club offers programs for kindergarten touch through high school. “The goal is to give the kids 5-10 years of experience by the time they graduate high school. This way they have the experience and resources to continue on to college.” Over the years, Plano Rugby Club has not only graduated players in college but has provided many players to the USA Eagles and U20 Junior Eagles. “We are also immensely proud of a few members that have gone into service.”
Plano Rugby Club focuses on a ‘everyone plays’ philosophy that ensures every child will get exposure to coaching and game play to help them develop as well rounded athletes. With the Dallas Jackals establishing an MLR team in DFW, Frank says, “exposure to the sport will began to grow very fast. A few years ago rugby was largely an unknown sport, but now you can turn on the TV and watch a a match.”
Another goal of Plano Rugby Club is to indoctrinate kids younger into the sport so they want to stay in the sport. “We’ve had some kids play for a few years then leave for football. But achieving a rugby scholarship is much easier than football for most athletes,” Frank continued.
If you are interested in learning more about Plano Rugby Club or joining the club, visit http://planorugby.com/.
About Dallas Jackals —
The Dallas Jackals are a professional rugby team of Major League Rugby (MLR), the highest level of rugby competition in North America. The Jackals were named as an expansion team in 2020 and will play their inaugural season in 2022 at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The team’s central mission is to develop domestic talent to a world-class level of play and professionalism while strengthening the high performance pathway in DFW by supporting the local clubs. Through proactive Community Outreach, the Jackals will exemplify and spread the passion of rugby by inspiring tradition, respect, family, and character on and off the pitch.
About MLR —
Major League Rugby is a professional sports league entering its fourth season and represents the highest level of competition in North America. The League evolved from seven teams in 2018, to 12 teams in 2021, featuring 11 from the United States and one from Canada. The competition follows an 18-week regular schedule for a chance to advance to the playoffs. Matches are televised on CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports 2, ESPN+, Facebook Live (for international viewers) and on different platforms in each local market. MLR prides itself on its incredible athletes, the passionate community behind them, and its strong values of Respect, Inclusivity, and Tradition.
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