Adelaide might be considered a AFL juniors heartland but Southern Suburbs are bucking that trend off the back of their wildly successful Get into Rugby programs.
Rugby Australia’s Get into Rugby is an introductory, skills-based program for those starting their rugby journey and Tyrone TePaiho has enjoyed a front-row seat as Southern Suburbs coordinator.
Since kicking off the program late last year, he’s seen more than 60 juniors take the field at AA Bailey with over 30 participants tackling rugby for the first time.
“We had our first clinic back in October and were expecting maybe 10 or 15 kids to turn up but it was crazy – we ended up with 35 at the first session and it only got bigger,” TePaiho said.
“So we ran that program for six weeks and I’d say around 50-60 per cent had never played rugby before.
“Now, we’ve started a new clinic that runs for about 4 weeks leading into the season that serves almost like a pre-season for new players and they can register and jump aboard with our club once they’ve finished.”
TePaihao credited much of the program’s success to its inclusive nature and social setting.
“It’s a dream for parents – we start about an hour after school, we put on a free BBQ and drinks every session while the kids are playing so it’s perfect for families and mum and dad getting some down time,” he said.
“We had kids from other clubs, new kids from the neighbourhood all coming down to get involved and I’ve never seen anything like it – I spent five years as club president and I’ve never seen as many kids and families and parents asking me about this program as I’ve had in the past six months.”
“It’s been a real gem for the club, especially for our U6 to U12s – registrations are already up and I’m excited to see how this next clinic goes.”
Rugby Australia programs manager Zac Elliot said clubs like Southern Suburbs were a perfect example of providing a great experience for participants and families new to rugby
“Our tailor-made programs focus on skill development and building confidence - it’s the perfect stepping stone into junior competitions and clubs like Southern Suburbs are reaping the rewards.”
RUSA CEO Carl Jones commended Southern Suburbs and the time Tyrone has dedicated to Get into Rugby over the past 6 months and encouraged other clubs to follow suit.
"Rugby Union South Australia is striving for 5000 participants by the Rugby World Cup 2027; it is programs such as these that engage those non-traditional rugby players and show the true potential for the growth of our sport in SA," Jones said.
"Our Junior program has experienced over 15% growth over the past five years and with programs such as Get into Rugby, international content such as the double header at the Adelaide Oval last August, other potential content between now and the RWC27, will certainly continue this trend."
To register your club for a Get Into Rugby program, simply visit (https://australia.rugby/participate/get-into-rugby/register-club) and complete a short interest form today.