Friday 24 November 2017

The hits that you see guys getting - it's definitely something that you would worry about

Former Ireland player - Mark McHugh

Mark McHugh, with his children Jacques (right) and Lucas.
Mark McHugh, with his children Jacques (right) and Lucas.
Mark McHugh in action in 2002
Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

Former Ireland international rugby player Mark McHugh tells how sons Lucas (5) and Jacques (3) are already following in his footsteps at Rugbytots, a rugby-centred play programme for kids aged 2-7.

'After moving home from France in 2012, we wanted to get the boys involved in some sort of sport. So when we heard there was a Rugbytots group right on our doorstep in Malahide, we enrolled Lucas initially, when he was three, and Jacques a year later, when he had just turned two. Now they're in the same class and absolutely love going every Sunday morning.

"At home, I'd always be throwing a soft rugby ball or football around with them. The boys are certainly aware that 'Daddy used to play rugby'. But it's not a case that because I played rugby I want them to play rugby. If they want to play GAA or golf, that's fine as well.

"As a parent, of course you're going to worry about your children [getting injured] playing any kind of sport. I picked up my fair share of bad injuries when I played. And the way rugby has gone - the hits you see guys getting every week on TV - it's definitely something you'd worry about.

"Overall though, I think rugby is a relatively safe game. At Lucas and Jacques' age, obviously there's no contact. Rugbytots is just as much about socialising with kids their own age as learning to catch a pass or run with it.

"The only bangs they get are from running too fast and falling over - but with a two-year-old and a five-year-old, that's going to happen anyway!

"Rugby taught me a lot of great life lessons, and I had a great time playing it for 12 years. If either of the boys decided to follow in my footsteps, and was talented enough and prepared to work hard enough to make a living out of it, I'd back them all the way.

"If Lucas and Jacques are the next Rob and Dave Kearney, well, that'd be nice.. To be honest though, my two are more into race cars than rugby!"

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