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Dragon Slayer

In the year 2016, rugby in America has been around long enough for grandfathers in their 70s to treat sons, daughters, and grandchildren to gala rugby events abroad and at home.

In addition, with the proliferation of youth rugby, more children at an early age are being exposed to rugby as an enjoyable sport to play and to watch.

A fine youth rugby example is the recent Vancouver 7s in its successful inaugural year, when BC Place stadium filled its lower bowl to capacity, welcoming many thousands of youthful ruggers.

The Canadian event allowed many members of the Seattle Vikings Youth RFC to travel north for the recent tournament, led by high school coach Dave Miller.

What makes international sevens so appealing to younger players is a combination of shorter events featuring lots of tries, and a festival atmosphere replete with food and wonderful, imaginative costumes.

One story emerges from Vancouver, the tale of the American boy in the main photograph who visited England for the 2015 World Cup, where he rooted for Wales. The reason has nothing to do with the small nation’s long and outstanding rugby history; instead, it has all to do with the country’s historical emblem, a fierce dragon that appears on the flag and also face painted on the lad's mouth.

(Our thanks to Tom Conger for the reporting and to Rand Conger for these photographs.)