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In an Uncommon Game, Lessons to Last a Lifetime

Not many American high schools boast a rugby team. According to USA Rugby, about 30,000 U.S. high schoolers play the sport. But its lack of popularity didn’t stop the Great Oak High School seniors of Temecula, Calif., from starting their own team.

Rugby’s lessons in sportsmanship are at its core. While highly competitive and physical, the game also requires players from opposing teams to look out for one another. As a symbol of this mutual dedication, rugby players have a ritual of sharing a meal together after a match.

“Rugby has a certain expectation of sportsmanship, which is above most experiences that kids and parents have at the high school level,” said Anna Booth, mother of one of the Great Oak’s rugby players. “After each game, the hosting team feeds the guests. It doesn’t matter what happens on the field. Afterward, you are in a fellowship with the other side. The culture is really incredible.”

Sportsmanship has long been a cornerstone of rugby. Throughout 19th century England, in those schools and institutions where the game’s rules were slowly formalized, rugby was seen as a way of instilling values like unselfishness, courage, teamwork and self-control in the young men who played it. The game’s virtues were even exalted in movies, like “Invictus” (2009), starring Matt Damon.

Knowing the values and sense of camaraderie that rugby imparts, our Temecula Les Schwab store jumped at the chance to sponsor the Great Oaks club for next season. The sponsorship includes providing 30 practice and game balls, which this year’s team will pass on to those who want to play next year. Teamwork and integrity are part of Les Schwab’s core values, and we look forward to watching this team continue to grow!

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