Pelham traveled to Morris, New Jersey, Sunday to face off against the biggest and most successful youth rugby program on the East Coast.
It turned out to be a great day, and Pelham’s hosts were very gracious.
First up were our U12 guys. Playing only their second game ever (some kids were playing only their first), the Pelham team came out fired up, stopping Morris and putting together some fine displays of rugby.
The kids experienced their first ever scrums (3v3) and did a great job. Pelham scored a few tries, let in a few tries. The most important part was we saw a lot of smiles. The kids did really well. We already have some of those players asking to play with the U14 kids. Look out for this group as they get older. They may be the best yet.
“I am very excited to see them grow and gain knowledge,” said Director of Rugby Matt Persanis.
Next were our U14s. This team has progressed so much this season. Pelham Youth Rugby owes huge thank yous to coaches Spencer Scanlon and Keith Killeen. They have really taken this group and moved them so much further in terms of play and attitude.
Score-wise it was a tough game; play-wise it was not. The Pelham kids were competing right up until the final whistle. In seasons past, this team had a tendency to “check out” once they got down. Not now. They even scored the last try of the game.
Pelham Rugby tries to instill in the kids that things don’t always go your way, but if you keep trying and working at it, you can overcome obstacles.
“If you don’t keep trying you will never succeed,” said Persanis. “It’s easy to keep going when things are going your way. A true test of a person is to see how they react when things are going poorly for them. I think we have seen a change here. I am very excited about that and really proud of their efforts.”
The U16 team finished the day’s matches. A rare loss saw the older players stunned and a bit confused. Pelham was missing some very good players and it showed. The kids also realized that as they get older, rugby gets tougher. They need to really start to think about the game and take care of themselves before and after matches.
Pelham U16s have been winning by getting by with better skills and being more organized than other teams. However, these players are reaching the age where they will be playing against better and better competition. This group may become the first to play high school rugby.
“They need to start taking it more seriously and take responsibility for their bodies,” said Persanis. “That being said, I am sure they will bounce back and have a good game this coming Sunday.”