After a pre-season that for some started in January, the Junior Unicorns will hit the pitch this week, with Round 1 across all Grades, from U6 to U18. This year the Club has welcomed more than 40 new Unicorns, with many in their first ever season of rugby. To the girls and boys of all ages, good luck this weekend, and welcome to you and your families as an important part of our Club. For some (hopefully all!) this is the start of a long relationship with our great game. Rugby holds an envied position as a conduit to creating long-lasting friendships, partnerships and links all over the globe between players and supporters.
This is the first year that the Melbourne Rugby Club will be represented in all age groups. This is a fantastic achievement – and one that is the result of loads of work in the off-season by coaches, management and committee. This can only hold the Club in good stead for the years to come as the strong enrolments in the Pathways Grades (U6-U10) develops into even bigger player numbers in the Competition Grades (U11-U18).
Here’s what the Club’s Junior Coaches are looking forward to:
U6 and 7 – Marco D’Amico “The coaches for the U6s and U7s are looking forward to seeing a new wave of Unicorns learning to love the game, developing their skills, making new friends and having fun.”
U8 – Jeff Ward “We have a big squad of 16 Under 8s in 2016, with half the squad new to the club and half coming up through the club’s under 6s and under 7s grades. Under 8s is the first year of tackle and all the kids are loving the contact and looking forward to a great year of tackling, bruising runs, cleaning out rucks and most importantly learning the importance of teamwork and having fun together.”
U9 – James Toohey “Plenty of new faces have joined our experienced junior Unicorns (some are in their fifth year and only eight years old!). We have a squad of 16 – and are really enjoying training and the pre-season games so far. This year is the second year of full contact, so learning the basics of tackling, rucking and mauling are important. As are focussing on catch, pass and how to work within the width of the pitch. In the first half of the year, all kids will be given the opportunity to play in every position, before zeroing in on preferred positions towards the end of the season. Good luck to our U9 Junior Unicorns.”
U10 – Tim Scarborough “We have a great mix in the team of experienced kids from last year and new talent that have joined us through preseason this year. Our focus will be on developing great ball skills, safe tackling techniques and good teamwork to produce free-flowing rugby that the boys will enjoy. All this will be done with an absolute focus on fun and comradery amongst the team and making lifelong friends at the club. We are looking forward to a great season at Melbourne Unicorns for the U10s.”
U11 – Nathan Keating “Our first year of competition is driving a new level of focus in the team. We will be the best tacklers in the competition this season as we strive for silverware for the first time.”
U12 – Hughie Forbes “With a mix of players coming through the grades & some new faces – the boys, coaches and management are very excited for the season ahead!”
U13 – Simon Taylor “Here we go again and the boys are excited! As well they should be, not least because for only the second time in seven years we’re playing in an appropriate age group. All the boys are back again (bar one Harlequin defector (we will be looking forward to that game) and more than half dozen new boys to boot, figuratively speaking, perhaps one or two literally also (and they know who they are!). There is genuine, healthy competition for starting positions, across the field for the 2016 Under 13s. Saturday sees us at Moorabbin, who have provided us with some fine rugby and hospitality in recent years, so this spritely bunch of Unicorns are rearing to go.”
U14 – Chris Dooney “A big year ahead for a team who are going to take out the competition by coming each game day and giving it all their heart and soul. Prove to yourselves boys it’s your year to shine, it’s your year to demolish all who you face, but the best thing of all parents are there to cheer on the U14s A Grade.”
U16 – Zac Zawalski “The Under 16s have been working a lot with the U14s, including an impressive combined win against a touring St Lawrence side. We have a big challenge ahead of us this year with nearly all of our boys playing up a year, looking forward to the challenge!”
U18 – Looking forward to a new endeavour for the U18s this year – we have a group of some old and some new faces and some new to rugby altogether. A combined team with Box Hill gives the boys the opportunity to play with healthy numbers. It should be a good year for both clubs.
Bring on Season 2016. Go Unicorns!