Parent Resources

Thank you for allowing your son to be a part of the Kenosha Vulture Rugby Football Club. We refer to it as a club because the rugby itself is bigger than just the sport. The comradery, respect and sportsmanship found in a club, at the game and between opponents is unlike any other sport. Our main goal as coaches is to teach and enforce these principals. The individual growth of each player as a person is how we as coaches measure success.

Below are some FAQ's that we frequently get asked. If there are any other questions, don't hesitate to reach out to one of the coaches. Also, under the player's resource tab you will find more information about the game itself.





1. What can we expect from rugby, and how do we join the club?

First and foremost, rugby is a lot of fun. Rugby is considered the ultimate "team" game, with camaraderie its centerpiece. Rugby is played in every nation on earth, and is the 2nd largest participatory sport in the world. It is currently the most popular club sport on the American college campus, especially among college women. Playing rugby also helps athletes fine tune skills that are important in other sports such as football, wrestling, lacrosse, soccer and basketball.

To join our club, you are required to fill out completely and sign 3 forms found on our web site. Addionally each player must register with USA Rugby as a team member. The forms are Contact Info and Medical History, Medical Waiver and Insurance, and Parent Permission. You need to submit these forms along with the club dues, buy a good pair of cleats and a mouthguard, and you should be all set.

2. What is the Kenosha Vultures High School Rugby Club, how is it organized, and why isn't it affiliated with the school district?

Our rugby team has "Club Sport" status, and at this time is unaffiliated with the Kenosha Unified School District. We offer rugby to student athletes from all local high schools. Our coaches are trained and accredited by USA Rugby, our national governing body. The club is also a member in good standing of the Wisconsin Rugby Football Union. For more information about the club, visit Wisconsin Rugby Union and USA Rugby.

Our club is a member of the Badgerland Conference and competes with other high school clubs in southern Wisconsin. We practice and play our home matches at Kennedy Park on the lakefront in Kenosha (5th Ave between 39th and 40th Street). No experience is necessary, and our club is open to all boys properly enrolled in high school.

3. Who is in charge?

The team current head coach is Aaron Young, assisted by Mark Baker, Jon Schanke, Nate Olsen and team manager is Joe Bullis. Other local experienced players and coaches join us throughout the season to help train our team. As members of the Badgerland Conference and USA Rugby, additional coaching and administration resources are available.

4. What can parents do to help the rugby program?

The support of our parents is key to the success of our club. We welcome parents ideas, involvement, and suggestions. Coming to our matches and cheering us on, videotaping our matches, volunteering to drive vehicles to rugby events, are examples of important parental support for our club. Another area Parents can help is assisting with our “Third Half Social”. This is a unique rugby tradition where the home team sponsors the visiting team to a simple group meal and social after the match. Having parents help organize our post match social makes for a most enjoyable experience for the team and coaches.

5. Do high school soccer and football athletes play rugby in the spring?

There are many schools in the USA and in Canada where football, soccer and rugby co-exist as varsity sports. Coaches at these schools report that rugby is an excellent off-season sport for football, basketball, hockey and soccer athletes. Be sure to read the article posted on our web site entitled How Rugby makes Better Football Athletes by sports journalist Alex Goff.

6. When does the rugby season begin and end?

The competitive rugby season begins in early March with outdoor practice, and ends in mid May with state playoffs. Practice starts officially indoors in January, and moves outdoors in early March. We practice 2-3 times per week during the conference season. Indoor training is on Monday and Wednesday at the Sturtevant Sports Complex from 830-10pm. In March we will move outdoors and trainings will be Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Practice will start at 5:00 and usually runs to 7:00. Conference matches start in April, and there are also optional summer tournaments in June and July.

7. Can my son or daughter play other sports and also play rugby?

Yes, of course! We believe that student athletes should experience as many sports as possible while they are young and able to do so. Athletes engaged in a winter sport may simply join the rugby team upon conclusion of the winter sport program, with absolutely no penalty for having missed our early season practice sessions. We leave this up to the individual player and parents, who are best able to determine whether the athlete has enough time and resources to play two sports at the same time.

8. Do you suspend athletes who are not getting good grades at school?

No formal or informal arrangements are in place with schools regarding monitoring of grades. We rely on the parent and player to establish the priority of grades vs sports. If a player is doing poorly in school and the parent wishes to hold them out of sports, we will support the parent's decision fully.

9. Is there a team fundraising obligation?

Since we receive no financial or other support from any school district, our team is dependent upon donations, fundraising, and team dues to fund basic operational costs. We do have a few fundraising activities during the year and ask that everyone participates as best they can to support our club. We are a registered 501(c)3 non profit organization, and all contributions are tax deductible.

10. Is there any college scholarship money available for rugby athletes?

Several universities offer partial scholarships and grants to rugby athletes, including Cal State, and Penn State University.

11. What kind of equipment is needed to play rugby, and what is the cost?

One of the great things about rugby is that there is very little equipment needed. All you really need is a patch of grass, players, and a ball...and you can play rugby. Athletes may wish to buy rugby cleats, but football or soccer shoes will suffice, but the front cleat must be removed. The club owns and supplies jerseys for matches. A mouth guard is required.

12. How much are individual member dues for the season, and how are they spent?

Dues are currently set at $150 for the season. This pays for the player's shorts, socks, T-shirt, field rental, equipment, third half expenses, awards, local and national team dues, referee fees, and many other expenses during the course of the season. We have an end of year party where awards are handed out. Payment plans are available for players on a tight budget. In instances of serious financial hardship, there are alternate methods to assist players with paying dues. All discussions are in complete confidence. When we travel to away games we usually travel in personal vehicles and everyone helps cover fuel expenses.

13. Safety in the tackle; How can these kids play “football” without wearing pads or helmets?

It is very important to recognize that rugby athletes are not playing football. They are playing rugby, and there is a big difference. The ball is the same general shape as in football, but that is where the similarities end. Most of the thousands of injuries suffered each year in football result from dangerous techniques that are only encouraged by the wearing of so-called "protective" gear.

Since rugby tackling requires a "grapple-and-wrap" tackle (as in wrestling) there is no need for helmets and pads. Further, there is absolutely no blocking in rugby, and therefore fewer injuries to knees and ankles as a result of poor or illegal blocking tactics. Rugby tackling is very different than football tackling, and is much more like a "takedown" in wrestling. All rugby athletes are taught to tackle and be tackled safely, by USA Rugby accredited coaches, before they are allowed to participate in contact practices and matches.

You will not see in rugby the "spearing" type of tackle that is encouraged in football. Football athletes are taught to launch their bodies, and to use their helmets and shoulder pads as weapons. In rugby, there is no spearing permitted, and no tackling allowed by grabbing or hitting above the tackled athlete's chest area. Such tactics are illegal in rugby, and can result in an immediate ejection from the match, plus possible suspension for future matches.

Rugby athletes are required to wrap their arms around the ball carrier when making a tackle cross-armed impacts, no purposeful head-on-head collisions, no initiation of contact with the head and neck. It is also important to understand that the ball carrier in rugby is not striving for the extra yard necessary to make a first down, as is often the case in the gridiron game.

Many football injuries occur when the ball carrier is clutching the ball very tightly to avoid a fumble, while driving forward, head down, just to pound out the extra yard, foot or inch needed to reach the first down marker. In football, would-be tacklers likewise drive forward and launch their bodies, head down, in an effort to put their "weapons" (helmet and shoulder pads) between the ball carrier and the first-down marker, or to dislodge the ball and cause a fumble. And that is how most injuries occur in gridiron football.

In football, the bigger and more violent the collision, the less chance there is of a first down, and the more likely there will be a fumble. This is how thousands of football athletes suffer serious head and spinal injuries each year, despite being equipped with heavy shoulder pads and hard plastic helmets. But the violent collisions in football help to sell tickets and generate vast TV audiences. There are no first downs in rugby. And no fumbles either. Rugby is all about passing.

Rugby is a fast-flowing game of continuous motion. Rugby is based on teamwork, and quick passing ("recycling") of the ball to supporting teammates. Rugby is not focused on individual efforts, or gaining an extra few inches, or crushing a ball carrier. A rugby athlete who is about to be tackled (or who is in the process of being tackled) is primarily interested in passing or rolling the ball back to a supporting athlete. The tackled athlete wants to get rid of the ball, not hold on to it and take additional "hits" in an effort to gain a few more inches. In this way, the rugby ball remains actively in play, and the tackle situation (if one arises at all) is quickly and safely concluded.

Soft "cloth-and-foam" headgear and soft shoulder pads are now available for optional use in rugby. Current data as to the safety and efficacy of these items is inconclusive. The decision on whether to purchase and use these items is up to the athlete and his or her parents.

14. Are there a lot of injuries in rugby?

There is a tremendous amount of misinformation on this important issue. Most of this misinformation is given out by folks who know little or nothing about rugby, or who are often personally "invested" in sports that they perceive as competing with rugby for talented athletes. Contrary to popular belief, there are actually very few serious injuries in rugby. As with all contact sports, there are bumps and bruises, and occasional sprains, concussions and fractures. True, rugby is a contact sport, and a vigorous one. However, the rate of serious injury in rugby is less than that experienced in other contact sports, such as football and ice hockey. The rate of serious injuries in rugby is roughly comparable to that in soccer and lacrosse, and substantially less than in sports like skiing, in-line skating and skateboarding.

15. What happens if my son or daughter is injured during a match or practice?

Injuries do occur in rugby, just as they occur in any contact sport. At home matches we arrange with Athletico to have a trainer on site to address any injury that may occur. A fully stocked first aid kit is always on hand to treat minor injuries, (i.e. bumps, bruises and minor cuts and scrapes). Athletes are responsible for reporting minor injuries to their parents. However, injuries that are suspected to be more serious in nature (i.e. fractures, larger cuts, concussions, and serious sprains) are reported immediately to the player's parent or guardian by the coach. A cell phone is present at all practices and matches in the event of an emergency. Appropriate action will be taken in the event that an injury requires emergency attention, and a parent cannot be located. At the beginning of the season, all parents are required to fill out a form, so as to provide emergency contact information. Parents are also requested to sign a Medical Authorization form in the event that emergency treatment is needed and a parent cannot be located on an immediate basis to authorize such treatment.

16. Does the club provide medical or disability insurance?

No, we do not provide medical or disability insurance to athletes or coaches. Each rugby athlete must arrange for his or her own coverage through his or her family.

17. How much travel is involved?

Most of our matches are within the nearby SE Wisconsin Milwaukee/Waukesha/Madison area. There might also be some matches played in the Chicago Suburbs. We typically play 3-4 away matches during a spring season.

18. Who is in charge when the team goes on overnight trips?

The ultimate responsibility for supervision of the athletes rests upon the accredited head coach of the team with regard to all rugby activities, including team travel. This is a responsibility that is taken very seriously. After all, most of our coaches are also parents. In addition to the head coach, parent chaperones and at least one assistant coach travel with the team on overnight trips. Parents must sign a permission slip, and are provided with a comprehensive Trip Itinerary and telephone contact information in the event of an emergency. All athletes and their parents are required to review abide by our team Code of Conduct in connection with each travel event.

19. Does the club provide transportation to and from "away" matches?

Sometimes, but not always. The club normally cannot always afford to rent buses or vans on a regular basis. Ordinarily, team travel to "away" matches is by carpool. Carpool vehicles are operated by coaches, parents and by the athletes themselves. Every effort is made to avoid situations where athletes are operating carpool vehicles, but this is not always possible. Parents should be sure to discuss travel plans with their athletes, including the identity of the person who will be driving.

20. Do the teams have drug and alcohol policies in place?

Drug and alcohol use will not be tolerated, and is strictly forbidden in connection with all HS rugby practices, matches, tours and events. The club reserves the right to terminate the membership privilege of any athlete suspected of possessing, transporting or using drugs or alcohol in connection with any rugby practice, match or other event. Further, if a coach suspects that an athlete may be involved in drug or alcohol use outside of rugby events, the situation will be brought to the attention of the athlete's parent or guardian, immediately, and on a confidential basis.

21. How much time is spent on rugby on a weekly basis?

Our teams generally engage in 3 practices per week during the conference season, usually lasting about two hours per session. No player is penalized in any way if he or she needs to skip rugby practices or matches in order to study, or to attend family, school or church events. Athletes are strongly encouraged to engage in a personal fitness program on their own, outside of practice. Rugby is much more fun when the participant is fit.

22. Are there any special considerations for female rugby athletes?

Female rugby athletes practice and compete separately from male rugby athletes. There is no "co-ed" rugby. There are no special variations in the rules of rugby for female athletes. Girls tackle and get tackled just as boys do, and tend to practice and compete with the same level of intensity as their male counterparts. In fact, some might argue that high school aged female athletes are more focused on learning rugby skills and tactics than are their male counterparts. It is interesting to note that Women's' rugby is now by far the most popular club sport on the American college campus. The NCAA has recognized Women's Rugby as an "Emerging Sport" at the college level, thereby paving the way for potential athletic scholarships under Title IX.