THE world's biggest rugby play program for tiny tots is coming to Lake Macquarie.
Rugbytots was launched in the UK in 2006.
It has since spread to 18 countries, and more than 60,000 children take part.
It's a play-based and non-contact program structured to teach kids aged 2 to 7 years the fundamental skills of the rugby codes, such as catching, passing and teamwork.
And the emphasis is on having fun.
Blue Haven couple Tim and Allyson West (a pre-school teacher) are the local franchisees.
They currently host Rugbytots sessions at Wyong and Berkeley Vale.
In January, the couple will launch school holiday Rugbytots sessions at PCYC Morisset. A 10-week term will then start in February.
"It's quite a big company, and it's just starting out in Australia," Mr West said of Rugbytots.
He discovered Rugbytots when he went searching for an activity for his son, Cohen, 3, who is too young to register to play rugby league or rugby union.
"Rugbytots bridges that gap," Mr West said.
"It's a rugby-based program, so we introduce the kids to all of the fundamentals in a fun way."
There are games and activities to help the boys and girls develop their catching, passing and kicking skills.
"There are also exercises that teach the kids about different colours, and we have fun obstacle courses. All the while, we're teaching the kids about the rules of the game, such as staying inside the touchline."
Parents take part in the 30-minute sessions for kids aged 2 to 31/2.
There is some parental participation in the 45-minute sessions for kids aged 31/2 to 5.
And the parents can stand back and watch from the sidelines as their 5- to 7-year-olds take part in the 45-minute sessions that really start to prepare the kids for the transition to team sport.
Mr West, who is an ex-military serviceman who was medically discharged, said a welcoming and safe environment was provided for all children at Rugbytots, including those with autism and attention disorders.
"Rugbytots is not just for able-bodied kids," he said.
"We have kids in our sessions who have autism and anxiety issues, and children who are really shy and don't have much confidence."
He said the Rugbytots program helped such children to find their voice, and their feet.
"Rugbytots is really good for their listening skills, and it teaches them to follow simply instructions. It's also about learning what it means to be in a team. That's a big thing.
"But mostly, it's about having fun."
There is a one-off registration fee of $35 for each child in the Rugbytots program. That includes the cost of their Rugbytots t-shirt and shorts.
Then it's $15 per session. There are 10 sessions to a term.
The Rugbytots holiday program will start at PCYC Morisset on January 13.
For details, phone Mr West on 0414 413 724 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To speak with Mrs West, phone 0430 016 005.