In a historic moment for sports in Costa Rica, a recent Saturday was dedicated to the sport of rugby in an event that took place at the Franco-CostaRicanSchool in Concepción de Tres Ríos, east of San José.
The event began in the morning with a match among students of the Franco-CostaRicanSchool. The 7- to 9-year-olds played rugby with proper tackles and entertained the many parents, teachers and older players.
Following the kids’ match was what was probably Central America’s first ever interschool, under-14 rugby match, between the Franco-CostaRicanSchool and Saint Anthony School of Moravia, northeast of San José.
The players displayed amazing skills in various tackles and scrums, showing excitement as well as discipline. Though most parents were not familiar with the rules of the sport, they were highly involved. Some seemed to be more excited than the children themselves, running alongside the pitch shouting words of encouragement and cheering for their team.
The most admirable achievement for the children was perhaps the organization and discipline they showed during the match, considering that a year ago most of them did not know what rugby was.
Though both teams were eager to win, the final score was a 12-12 draw, which in the end seemed to please both Andrew Loveday, the coach for Saint Anthony, and Franco-CostaRicanSchool coach Flavio Silva. The two men agreed the draw was a fair result, and, most important, the children were able to participate in a historic match. The day concluded with a match between students and teachers of the Franco-CostaRicanSchool, as well as both coaches.
The parents were also pleased, and many are eager for a second match between the under-14 teams. The coaches have promised there will be no more draws, and, as Loveday said, “After the match we are best friends, but during the game we both want nothing less than to beat the other team.”
The general mood of the public was one of enjoyment and interest in the sport. The two teams showed rivalry on the pitch but friendship after the game, which is what rugby is all about, according to Joseph Armesto, the man who made it all possible.
Armesto is the president of the country’s Rugby Association, which he founded in July 2003. Subsequently, this year, the San José Rugby Club was founded. These two associations have now joined and are known as the Federation of Rugby, which is seeking national representation as well as membership for next year with the International Rugby Board, the worldwide governing body for the sport. The association has already completed two years of membership with the South American Rugby Confederation, participating in the South American Nations B Tournament and flying to Guatemala to be represented by its under-19s.
Armesto is a rugby fanatic who encourages everyone to practice the sport and believes that rugby is not only about playing but also about the values it teaches to young children and adults. According to Armesto, the sport shows the value of teamwork and discipline and helps in the personal development of anyone who plays it.
Despite the success of the federation and the sport’s growing popularity in the country, Armesto says he won’t stop until adults, teenagers and children, both male and female, are playing rugby across the nation.