Former NFL Players Ike Reese, Hollis Thomas, Matt Birk To Join In First-Ever Joint Youth Effort For Football And Rugby On Sunday, May 31st
Philadelphia, Penn. – May 5, 2015 -- The 2015 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship announced today a landmark initiative to enhance the sports of football and rugby. On Sunday, May 31st at PPL Park in Chester, as part of the final championship day of the CRC, the event will host an open clinic for both youth football and rugby players to discuss and demonstrate safe tackling techniques.
Led by former Philadelphia Eagles and now media personalities Hollis Thomas and Ike Reese, Super Bowl champion, former Pro Bowler and now NFL Director of Football Development Matt Birk, and former CRC competitor and member of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriot, Nate Ebner, the clinic will help educate coaches and young players on the value of safe tackling. It will take place at the new Academy Fields located on the grounds of PPL Park, and all players and coaches will be able to stay for the day’s final Rugby 7’s Championship match that day.
“We are proud to be able to present this pioneering initiative on safe tackling to youth football and rugby coaches and players as we wrap up the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championships on May 31st,” said Donal Walsh, Tournament Director of the Penn Mutual CRC. “Both football and rugby have a common core of athleticism and teamwork, but most importantly they need to be safe and fun for all involved, and we think this clinic will have great value for anyone interested in either football or rugby, and will educate both on how to play correctly.”
“I'm looking forward to learning more about rugby and its techniques, some of which I anticipate being useful and applicable to football,” Birk said. “We at the NFL are open to learning and interested in any relationships or discussions that can help make our game safer."
Players and coaches interested in signing up for the clinic can go to usasevenscrc.com/tackle. Penn Mutual is underwriting the cost of the first 500 tickets for the final day of competition for those registered for the clinic.
“Rhino Heads Up Tackling” is a step-by-step protocol to teach the core principles of the skill and sets a new standard in player safety. The program utilizes five fundamentals through a series of drills to reinforce proper tackling mechanics and teach players how to properly tackle with a focus on reducing helmet contacts. It is a technique that rugby has long used as the proper way to tackle, and has drastically reduced head injury and concussion in the sport over the years in both 15’s rugby and 7’s, the game which will be part of the 2016 Olympic in Rio.
The clinic will help conclude the two-day rugby festival, the largest gathering of collegiate and high school rugby teams in America. It is also the largest and longest-running collegiate Rugby 7’s Championship in the world, with 20 schools competing for the national title. Penn Mutual is in the first of a three year title sponsorship for the event, and NBC Sports is returning as both broadcaster and event partner.
This year’s main field of 20 teams competing for the title in the fast-moving Olympic sport of Rugby 7’s includes the two-time defending champions from the University of California, as well as the Air Force Academy, University of Alabama, University of Arizona, Arkansas State, Boston College, Clemson, Dartmouth College, Indiana, Kutztown University, Life University, University of Michigan, U.S. Naval Academy, University of Notre Dame, Penn State University, Temple University, St. Joseph’s University, University of Texas, UCLA and Virginia Tech. The winner of the CRC takes home the coveted Pete Dawkins Trophy. The championship trophy is named after Dawkins, who as an All-American football standout at West Point won the Heisman Trophy in 1958. Dawkins was a Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford, where he used his outstanding football skills to make him a star on the Oxford Varsity rugby team, revolutionizing the game in the process.
The “World’s Largest College Rugby Festival” also includes a collegiate women's rugby bracket, a men's small college rugby bracket from the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO), as well as a national high school tournament with both boys and girls teams. Fields for each of those events will be announced shortly.
The interest in Rugby 7s will continue to grow as the sport returns to the Olympic Games in 2016, following an 92-year hiatus. The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship is part of a nationwide effort to build American rugby talent in preparation for the Olympics. In the past three years, the Collegiate Rugby Championship has produced 15 players who have gone on to play for the U.S. National teams.
In addition to its CRC sponsorship, Penn Mutual is also title sponsor for The Varsity Cup, the collegiate championship of the 15-a-side rugby format. The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup is played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 2.
About United World Sports: United World Sports (UWS) is the largest commercial rugby entity in the United States, and the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports, media and apparel brands including the USA Sevens Rugby international tournament, the largest professional rugby event in North America; the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the premier college 7s rugby championship; and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship, the 15s national rugby championship. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world’s leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby. For more information about UWS and its properties, visit: http://www.unitedworldsports.com.
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