History & Accolades
Founded by former National Rugby Team player Mark Griffin in 2003, the program was established as a weekend club to bring the benefits of rugby-themed youth development to boys and girls of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. The first group of Play Rugby USA participants in 2004 were 75 children from a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. The program was subsequently piloted in 5 schools during late 2005 and since its full time inception in 2006 has grown into a comprehensive youth development and sports education curriculum delivered in well over 200 schools and community based organizations in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington D.C.
The program has received recognition and endorsement from a number of organizations and individuals including Mayor Bloomberg, the NYC Sports Commission, Hilary Clinton, the New York State Assembly, the New York City Department of Education, Philadelphia School District, USA Rugby, DC Children and Youth Investment Trust, Beyond Sports, and the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, for example.
In 2007, Play Sports for Life founder Mark Griffin received the National Council of Youth Sports’ Hershey’s STRIVE Award as National Administrator of the Year for pioneering such a unique youth development experience that could be replicated nationally.