All together now: Dellwood and TN Tatem Middle School faced off in the first league rugby game. Former WWE champ John Layfield is helping organize the sport. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
All together now: Dellwood and TN Tatem Middle School faced off in the first league rugby game. Former WWE champ John Layfield is helping organize the sport. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 25: Big grins were the theme of the day as the first school rugby league game kicked off yesterday at Bernard Park.

Dellwood and TN Tatem Middle School had the privilege of playing in the inaugural contest.

Organizer John Layfield, a former WWE champion, said the emphasis is more on fun, and that "this is the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life."

"This is so much fun watching these young people playing and competing which is what they want to do."

Layfield is more than a coach to this middle school boys — mentor would actually be a better word. He spends after school time with them helping them with their homework and trying to instill values in them so they don’t become a negative statistic.

“I’m with them every day with the Homework Academy at school with our sessions. They have learned so much over the past few months.

“It’s so much fun to watch them work as a team together. When we first got them they didn’t work as a team and now they do, so that’s pretty cool.”

Academics

Layfield said the sport is secondary to the academics.

“We run a kids’ programme not a sports programme and I really mean that. Fifty per cent of black Bermudian males don’t graduate. Right now 100 per cent of our kids say they will graduate — that doesn’t mean they will, but that is a positive step.

“We want our kids to graduate and have options and be good people. Being a rugby player comes a distant second.”

Layfield was happy to see the parents of the boys ringing the field to watch them play. After the game Upper Crust delivered pizza to Bernard Park and both teams shared a slice  of pie with each other.

“We want that social cohesion and being interactive with their community.”

Seven middle schools will join with a group of the high schools to form the Bermuda Rugby League.

The league champion will be crowned in late April or early May.

Layfield said Patrick Calow has been hired as a result of this partnership is also the youth development officer for the BRFU and runs the rugby portion of the Beyond Rugby programme. Calow is helping Chris Naylor in setting up schedule and helping coordinate the league.”

Whitney will play host to Sandys today at 3:30pm for each of those schools first games.

The Beyond Rugby group has been offered a couple of invitations for international play including the NYC Harlem Cup June 9. Beyond Rugby plans on offering this to an all-star team of league players.