2023: THE RETURN OF THE YOUTH RUGBY TOUR...
There are few things in this world that has the same impact on our emotional well-being as sports.
A recent article in Forbes Magazine identified four key ‘emotional need-states’ provided by sport:
Release…we play sport to help relieve the stresses and strains of our everyday lives.
Belonging…being part of the team fulfills our need to be part of a social group.
Identity…being part of a team ultimately says something about who we actually are.
Enrichment…our lives somehow feel better through our shared sporting experiences.
When the global COVID pandemic arrived in Spring 2020, rugby was hit especially hard. The close contact nature of the game meant our sport was one of the first to be stopped and one of the last sports to fully return. The rugby tour, a defining feature of our sport for many years, was an inevitable sacrifice which meant many youth players missing out on one of the most enjoyable and valuable experiences rugby can offer during these formative and important years.
But in 2023, the rugby tour is well and truly back as restrictions and requirements on travel lift around the world and festivals of rugby like Tropical 7s return to full capacity (2022 was the largest event to date with 2023 set to be even bigger with the return of more international sides). If the lure of warm weather rugby in the sunshine of Florida isn’t enough to tempt you to Tampa on its own next Easter, here are five other benefits your team can experience from participating in a rugby tour such as Tropical 7s:
Tours aren’t just for team building - they build resilience
The rugby tour has been well-established as a great team-building opportunity. But the positive effects of a rugby tour can go even further in building greater resilience within the team itself. Travelling to a big tournament like Tropical 7s raises the stakes and places an extra degree of expectation on the players along with a desire to perform well. As the team plays multiple opponents in a relatively short time-period, the team collectively learns to never give up and strive to play better for each other. The unique environment of a rugby tour enables players to learn how to manage this pressure collectively, develop resilience and not to be overwhelmed. International tournaments like Tropical 7s can also expose your team to different types of opponents, playing styles and tactics, often requiring your players to think differently about the game, develop greater flexibility on the field of play and adapt their own playing style accordingly.
Tours can help develop confidence & independence
For many teenagers, a rugby tour may be their first time away from home without parents, other family members or even their usual friends around them. This unique environment encourages them to step outside their comfort zone, to try new things and challenge their own beliefs of who they are and what they're capable of doing. This is great for building self-confidence as well as bolstering their individual self-esteem. A tour can also give those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with behavioural issues a different type of opportunity to excel in a new environment, feeling part of something that is positive and providing an outlet for them to express themselves and to realise their potential.
Travel broadens horizons
Travelling away from home, especially for overseas tours, exposes us to different experiences and cultures that we wouldn’t normally have access to at home. By opening up our childrens' minds to these different experiences, they can develop a broader perspective of the wider world around them and become better world citizens. This can help them to develop a respect for diversity, equality and inclusivity and to see the world through a different lens.
Tours can act as an incentive to develop other life skills
The prospect of going on tour with your team can help install the message to your players that ‘hard work pays off!’ The tour acts as a focal point and teaches the group to be self-motivated and driven in the planning and preparation ahead of their trip. They learn to forward plan and budget for the tour as well as understand that they may need to make some sacrifices. The tour can also provide an opportunity for the team to use their initiative and creative talents to support any fundraising efforts. The prospect of a playing in a big tournament may also encourage players to adopt healthier lifestyles both in the preparation for and during the tournament itself. This creates more independent and more responsible young adults and promotes positive behaviours they can carry through into their adult lives.
Tours create shared lifelong memories
There are few things in this world that have the same impact on our emotions as sports....like forging some of the best friendships and memories for life both on and off the field! Whether it's lifting the trophy on the final day of the tournament with your team mates or simply sharing a room with a group of friends who have your same passion for rugby, a rugby tour will create priceless memories that can last a lifetime.
Registration for the 2023 Tropical 7s is currently open. Youth & university teams from around the globe are invited to come play in the International Youth Rugby Sevens tournament to be held on 7-8 April 2023 (Fri/Sat of Easter weekend) at the Tournament Sportsplex of Tampa Bay in Florida, USA. Teams are invited to arrive early in the week with playing pitches available from Monday 3rd April 2023 for training sessions and warm-up games. Full details at www.tropical7s.com.