July 27, 2013 Summary of New Orleans Rugby Foundation Meeting

The Mid-Summer New Orleans Rugby Foundation meeting was held on Friday, July 26, 2013, at noon at Joey K’s restaurant on Magazine Street.  The following people committed in advance to atend: Kerrigan, Reuther, Farnet, Buckingahm, McNulty, Goodell, Duhe, Ducoing, Tim Falcon, Bellaci, Boyd, Ormsby, &  Giepert

Louisiana Rugby has been formed as the SBRO ( State Based Rugby Organization). La Rugby is looking for Board Members, especially potential Board Members who are not presently affiliated with rugby.

It was agreed we will try to begin a middle school/junior high (7th thru 9th grades) competition this year. Our goal is four teams for the first year which could come from some of the high schools that presently have rugby.

We patted ourselves on the back for having a quality high school product, proven by Shaw winning the South against both single school and multi school teams. We have quality but now we need to start building up quantity. Our goal is to have at least two new high school programs next year. Potential new teams are St Paul’s, Rummel, West Jeff and Karr. St Paul’s seems to have an organization in place. Scully needs help organizing West Jeff. Hopefully Cody Cadella and Kevin Kern will have better luck with Rummel this year. Benji Haswell is a teacher at Karr and hopefully he can start a program there with some help.

Sonny Fontenot was at the meeting and will work to re-organize the SLU team together with a group freshman from the New Orleans High School programs who will be attending SLU in the fall and are eager to play rugby there.

We patted the Men’s Club on their backs for the 3rd place finish in division 1 and qualifying for the 7’s National tournament. They are obviously doing something right.
*The Men’s Club is set to join the Texas Union where both the division 1 and division 2 sides will compete. The benefit of this is that the team will travel together and play the same opponent each weekend. All of the Texas teams are supposed to have both division 1 and division 2 for NORFC to compete against.
The Men are also looking for a forward’s coach.

*Note: Clarification from Jerry Gallion

As clarification, NORFC is NOT joining the Texas Rugby Union.

Beginning this coming season, USA Rugby, not the local union, is responsible for the club competition structure and has divided the country into competitive regions. Even though NORFC is a member of the True South Geographic Union (formed by combining the old Deep South and Mid South LAUs), it has been assigned by USA Rugby to compete in American Competitive Region 4, which includes Texas, most of Louisiana, and parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The distinguished field committee’s report is that sand will be added to both the Gretna field and the City Park field in August to help raise and level the fields. The fields will once again be planted with rye grass in November or December.
The rugby stadium in Algiers has a proposed finish date of November 2014.

As always we need more people to step up and referee. The referee’s society is targeting the NORFC Men’s Club for players who can referee high school games during the week. As a reward for Chance Doyle doing this last year, the New Orleans Old boys are paying for 1/2 of his Ireland Trip.  By Gary Giepert

The following is a short summary of Nick Conte’s past year as the Youth Rugby Development Coordinator in New Orleans, as well as a bit on the current state of youth rugby.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Summary of the 2012-13 CAA Rugby Service Term
Fall Season
In the summer of 2012, the New Orleans Rugby Foundation applied for a Coach Across America service grant with the Up2Us organization for a Youth Rugby Development Coordinator.  I was selected for the position and arrived in New Orleans on September 12th, 2012.  The responsibilities of this position were primarily to help run Youth Rugby NOLA and to expand the number of youth play rugby.
Over the course of the fall, I ran an outreach campaign to get word out about youth rugby.  By the December, I had reached over 1,200 students across the city in seven schools.  I was also asked to take charge of the sophomore Lake Area HS program.  To cap the season, I organized a “Day of Rugby” in December which highlighted youth and high school rugby.  We had over 35 youth players in attendance, all of whom took the pitch that day.  It was the largest gathering of youth ruggers in Louisiana.  We also held Louisiana’s largest pre-season high school tournament.
December saw the incorporation of Louisiana Rugby; a USA Rugby affiliated State Rugby Organization with the goal of fostering the development and growth of youth and high school rugby throughout the state of Louisiana.
Spring Season
The youth outreach paid dividends in the spring.  Our first spring practice had 18 youth ruggers, doubling our fall numbers.  By the end of the spring season we had 35 players participating in the scrimmages during Pan American Stadium’s HS Rugby Championship.  Outreach was slowed due to my additional involvement with Lake Area, a second youth practice on the West Bank, and Louisiana Rugby.  However, we still reached 400 students.
Lake Area took many strides forward.  We finished 3rd in the regular season, drawing a tie with Jesuit HS.  In the playoffs we finished 4th after a hard fought rematch against Jesuit.  Many of those seniors are now headed to continue their rugby careers at the university level.
We attempted to organize a Middle School league for April and May, but many schools were turned off by our desire for a contact league.  It became an experimental program with only Christian Brothers School participating.  The groundwork for that league is laid, we simply need more time next year.  We also decided to organize a Youth Rugby Summer Camp.
During the summer, I found employment with Tulane’s Ripples Day Camp as a full time rugby specialist.  There I was able to develop the skills of 600 youth, aged 5 to 14.  Tulane’s camp was hoped to be a major draw for participants in our own Rugby Summer Camp.  However, not enough campers pre-registered for the camp and we were forced to cancel.  As with the Middle School League, the initial groundwork is laid, we simply need to start planning earlier and with more coordination.
Current State of Youth Rugby
Overall, the past year has been a great success.  The number of consistent youth ruggers has tripled.  Over 2,200 other New Orleanian youth have been introduced to rugby.  Youth Rugby NOLA’s upcoming season promises exciting.  However, if there was one downside it was the organizing of Louisiana Rugby.  The institution has the potential to bring lots of resources to Louisiana by way of training, coach instruction, and equipment & grant funds.
In my mind, Louisiana Rugby acts as an umbrella youth organization, which does not necessarily interfere to local organizations such as the New Orleans Rugby Foundation or Youth Rugby NOLA.  The goal of Louisiana Rugby is to sprout rugby in areas where it does not yet exist, expand upon those areas where it does, and assist where possible.  It should not inhibit natural, grassroots growth.  Louisiana Rugby is an organization we should all be proud to be a part of.  With the right cultivation, it can be a shining example of what Louisiana is doing with America’s up and coming ruggers.  Though, that has not been the case since its inception.
I propose that we start anew.  Louisiana Rugby should be a collective of Louisiana’s best.  As such, I recommend the election of a full Board of Directors.  With the new rugby season should come a fresh beginning for this promising organization.
Personal Direction
I have been given the opportunity to be hosted and play with The Harvard Club, a decades old institution in Trinidad & Tobago.  So for the fall season, I will be away in Trinidad working to improve my skills for the spring NORFC season.
Thankfully, Coach Across America has granted us a second 900 hour service term which they will allow us to postpone until the spring.  So I will continue my position as Youth Rugby Coordinator upon my return.

R. Nick Conte

Youth Rugby Development Coordinator
Coach Across America/Louisiana Rugby

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