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    If you’re feeling a bit couch-potatoish watching the Olympics, have no fear: You can get in on a new Olympic sport this very weekend. On Saturday, February 20, a free rugby clinic will take place at Highland Middle School, 1700 Norris Place, from 10–1. 

    Led by Luke Gross, a former pro player and current USA National Team coach, the clinic is open to all ages. But don’t worry, Mom and Dad, says Eric Raney, organizer and head coach at UofL. “It’s a full-contact sport for sure, but at the camp there won’t be any contact or fitness tests or anything like that. We’re trying to get people out to the rugby pracics, play some little games and introduce the game to people.”

    The introduction comes right before the unveiling of the new Louisville High School Rugby League next month. Committed high school teams so far include St. X and Eastern, along with an outreach called “West End United” involving members from Iroquois and Central. On a larger stage, however, this ancient precursor to football is slated to be included as a new competitive sport for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro—a long time coming, considering that, according to the International Rugby Board, the 2007 Rugby World Cup was the world’s third-largest sporting event. (The Super Bowl didn’t even make the cut, but, to be fair, football fans, Raney waited to hold the clinic until the spring “because we don’t want to conflict with football.”)

    The clinic is rain (or snow) or shine; although Raney hopes to hold the clinic outdoors, there are gyms available in Highland in case of inclement weather. Participants should dress accordingly for any outdoor activity.

    The clinic is cosponsored by Louisville Men’s Rugby Club and UofL. For more information, contact Eric Raney at 939-4130 or

    You may also enjoy: Turn your kids into a future Olympian with some ice skating lessons.

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    Photo: Flickr/David Jackmanson

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