Source: @torontoarrows via Twitter
On Saturday the Toronto Arrows hosted a Community Rugby Day at the Toronto Soccerplex. The day was a chance for the community to come out and meet the entire Arrows squad as well as the coaching staff and management. The day provided many local children with the chance to take part in a number of rugby drills with the Arrows players as instructors.
As Major League Rugby enters its third season, the Arrows recognize the importance of hosting events like this in order to reach the next generation of players and fans. “This is the future of our game,” said Arrows President Bill Webb at the event.
He would go on to add “We want to grow the game and the game starts with young boys and girls, and their parents embracing the game at as early an age as possible.” Webb recalls that his own sons began playing rugby at a young age and big reason they fell in love with the sport was events like Rookie Rugby and other gatherings at the local clubs.
For many kids it was a chance to meet and play some rugby with many of their rugby heroes. For many of the Arrows players, it was a chance to share their passion for the game with a new generation of rugby fans. “It’s just fun to get out with those guys and girls and just show them our love for the game and how fun rugby can actually be,” said Dan Moor, who the team officially named captain prior to the event.
Moor believes that events such as Community Rugby Day are important because the club is “trying to inspire the next generation of rugby players”. The Arrows understand the importance of not only hosting these types of events but being active at local schools and rugby clubs to help reach create that next generation of MLR fans.
Webb wants the Arrows to be the “the most accessible pro sports team in Canada”. The accessibility of the Arrows is not limited to just community rugby day. Webb stated that the Arrows will continue to host events similar to community rugby day throughout the 2020 season. He also made sure to extend an open invite for all fans to join both teams at a local pub following every home match (William’s Landing located around the corner from Lamport Stadium).
Moor says that all the players have bought into Webb’s mission to make the Arrows the most accessible sports team in Canada and want to be a constant presence in the community. The players buying into Webb’s goal is not lost on the coaching staff either. “It was great from the boys. They were all very engaged and creating the next players, the next fans and the next coaches”, said assistant coach Aaron Carpenter.
Ultimately, the Arrows believe that passionately reaching out to the community and making a difference will is an important part of growing their brand and fanbase.
The accessibility of the Arrows goes beyond a marketing initiative or a way to attract sponsors. Arrows flanker Marcello Wainwright highlighted another reason why these community events are so important. “I think sometimes there is not enough coaches to go around. I think we can help fill that gap,” said Wainwright. He believes that an important part of filling that gap is for the Arrows to be available to lend a hand at schools and local clubs.
In the past, Wainwright has also worked for the Toronto Intercity Rugby Foundation (TIRF), an organization that helps to “reduce the financial, geographical, and cultural barriers that prevent children and youth from participating in rugby”. Wainwright estimates that TIRF has helped “tens of thousands of kids” gain access to rugby. You can read more about TIRF on their website.
The Arrows community rugby day is more than simply providing kids and parents a chance to take photos and get autographs from players (although there was plenty of that happening). It also provided kids an opportunity to actually play rugby and under the guidance of instructors like Wainwright, further develop their technical skills within the game.
The Toronto Arrows will head to Las Vegas later this week and meet up with the Colorado Raptors and Utah Warriors for some training and pre-season matchups. For all your Arrows news throughout the 2020 MLR season, be sure to follow @BressetteTheJet and @LaymansSports on your favourite social media platform.