Parents: Showing Support in the face of School Rugby Cancellations


Throughout the country young people are feeling disappointed with the loss of school rugby and sport in general.

Craven Week, and the numerous school rugby festivals and hockey tournaments have been terminated. Events that should have been added to the list of school memories, expunged without ever having the chance to breathe.

Parents can’t erase the frustration their children feel, particularly where seasons have ended abruptly or events have been cancelled. However there are ways they can support them through the disappointment. 

The impact of COVID-19 has hit school sports hard with the wholesale cancellation of youth sport. With no clear indication on when school sport will be given the green light to restart, the frustration mounts. For some young people they are feeling it more than others. Some  were about to participate in the apex of their high school season. Others were about to start their winter season which was their highlight. Many entertained the prospects of going on tour or getting selected from their provincial team. All of this has been dashed.

Initiate Conversation about the loss

Learning how to handle disappointment is a life skill, and communication is key. Verbalising feelings and acknowledging disappointment helps young people work through the range of emotions and provides important support. Initiating an open conversation when there are no distractions and you are alone together can be a helpful way for young people to process their feelings.

Remember to:

  • Be open to talking about their feelings
  • Let them open up at their own pace
  • Listen to them, without adding your own judgement

If they don’t want to talk to you, don’t take it personally and let them know that you’re there for them if they do want to talk. They might also feel more comfortable talking to someone else about it, so you could suggest they call their coach or a teammate for a chat.

And while there are significant challenges and obvious disappointments because of the cancellations and postponements, opportunities and new ideas start to emerge.

3 Strategies that can Support the Loss of School Rugby and Sport

Firstly, there are a number of strategies that can help parents support young players socially and emotionally during the pandemic include:

  • Set up routines to which will normalise the situation as much as possible (skill practices or free play in place of team training after school)
  • Play with your child in the sport of their choice in the backyard or driveway, or practice certain skills and drills within the home if possible
  • Remind your child what they have achieved – shifting the focus away from outcomes reflect on the learnings and the journey through the season.

Secondly, the break in the sport calendar gives parents a great opportunity to reintroduce free play. Gone for now are the never-ending hectic sports schedules. With organised sports on hold, take advantage of this time to encourage your child to enjoy practicing and playing creatively (within the context of lockdown regulations). Let them play on their own terms.

Thirdly, re-examine your own balance with sports – and that of your child’s. This is a good time to reflect, talk to your child and think about what they’re getting out of the sports they’re playing. Is your child having the best experience possible? Have you followed your child’s lead and asked what he or she wants?

School sport and school rugby will continue to be a great platform to develop young people through character development. The current challenge we face in the world will certainly give us all a great lesson in resilience, determination, and selflessness to name a few.