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Local youth rugby club begins 2020 season

F5 Rugby’s Will Bailey advances the ball during Saturday’s match against Union Rugby Club. Photo / Provided

Yukon’s area high school rugby club began its season Saturday with a 43-12 loss against Tulsa-based Union Rugby Club.
“(Union is) a very athletic and older team,” said Tyson Parker, recruiting coordinator and assistant coach for F5 Rugby. “Our youth showed.”
Parker went on to say that the match was not a pretty one.
“The match in general was a bit sloppy,” he said. “Union was able to muddy the game up enough to never really allow our offense to set up. But our own breakdowns is what really caused the lopsided score. They are very fast and athletic.”
And while the match didn’t go the way the team wanted, Parker praised the team’s spirit.
“Overall, all our boys never quit and fought to the end,” he said. “We were able to take and learn from this game. Coaches and players alike now know what we need to focus on.”
F5 Rugby, formerly known as the Yukon Rugby Club, attracts high school-aged players from as far away as Elk City, offering both boys’ and girls’ rugby for youth interested in the sport.
“This is our first year under the banner of F5 Rugby,” Parker said.
The name change, Parker said, was for many reasons. Because the club is not
affiliated with Yukon Public Schools, changing the name helps reduce confusion.
In addition, students from rival schools, like Mustang, might balk at the idea of wearing a “Yukon Rugby” jersey.
“It’s open to everyone in the area,” Parker said.
Team numbers change from year to year, Parker said.
“For rugby in Oklahoma in general, I’ve noticed a fluctuation,” Parker said. “When we first started, numbers were way bigger. Then the boys’ numbers decreased slightly and the girls’ numbers increased dramatically. Now, that’s changing. It’s down to girls only having three teams in the state, but the boys’ numbers are growing.”
For example, this year the girls’ team is small, since several seniors graduated in 2019.
To compensate, the team plays “sevens rugby,” which involves seven-person teams who play two seven-minute halves per match.
“We play 10s if possible,” Parker said. Tens rugby is a variant in which teams are made up of 10 players, with matches played in two 10-minute halves.
But what really sets the sport apart, Parker said, is the sense of community among teams and players.
“If the girls are scheduled to play Bixby, they’ll play either sevens or 10s,” Parker said. “But if Yukon only has seven girls, then some Norman girls will probably show up to fill in so we have some subs, and they’ll play three sevens matches.”
Parker called rugby “the ultimate team sport,” pointing out its emphasis on a team that can’t rely on one or two outstanding players.
“Generally with most sports – football, baseball, hockey, soccer – you can have one kid or one player who is a superstar, and that can contribute to a win,” Parker said. “But with rugby, you can have one or two stars, but everyone has to work together.”
Despite playing against each other, Parker said the teams take time to socialize after each match.
“We call it a family. I know they say that in a lot sports, but rugby is a family in a different way,” Parker said. “The social aspect afterward is almost as big as the game itself. Players get to build relationships with other kids. And who knows, in the future they may be on an airplane together, and realize, ‘Hey, we used to play rugby together.’”
Rivalries are different, too.
“The sport doesn’t have the typical American rivalry aspect,” Parker said. “There are rivalries, but always at a high respect level that stays on the field.”
To emphasize that, Parker pointed out that, after each match, the home team provides food to the visitors, even if it’s only a snack.
“That way we spend some time together and get to know each other before we part ways,” Parker said.
Both F5 teams practice at Putnam City West High School, along with occasional practices at a local soccer field.
F5’s home games will be at Putnam City West, Parker said. For away games, the club provides transportation – and all players are required to ride with the rest of the team on the way to the match.
“If a parent wants to drive a kid home, that’s fine, but to the game, they are required (to ride with the team),” Parker said. “That works best, because for some kids, the only way they’re going to get to the game is to ride the bus, and we’ve always been able to produce a full team. Not every team can say that. We’ve always been able to produce enough numbers because we go the extra mile.”
Parker said the club’s $100 fee includes a pair of game shorts and two workout shirts, along with entrance to a banquet at the end of the year and the food provided after each game.
“The only thing they have to buy themselves is a mouthpiece and cleats,” Parker said.
F5 has two Facebook pages: F5_Rugby_Fan_Page and F5 Rugby – Formerly Yukon Rugby Club.
For more information, contact Parker at 388-3470.

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