Rugby is Growing in Atlanta

Atlanta Youth Rugby Article - October 2020

Rugby is growing in Atlanta

Rugby is taking hold in Atlanta, and Atlanta Youth Rugby (‘AYR’) has led the way. A passion project for AYR CEO and Morningside dad Anthony (‘Anton’) Forbes-Roberts, AYR is a registered Georgia nonprofit and is now entering its 7th winter Competitive season serving the Grady cluster.

Since Forbes-Roberts took the reins of the club in 2015, AYR has grown from a handful of seasonal kids in Inman Park to year-round Community programming in 12 neighborhoods around the ATL. All Community programs are flag & tag, and Competitive tackle (from U12) runs November to March.

AYR CEO Anton Forbes-Roberts (left) with his 2019-2020 U12 Dragons squad at Carolina Ruggerfest

As well as the second largest television sport in the world, rugby is the fastest growing youth sport in America, and AYR is fortunate to have coaches from the national D1A champion Life University Eagles; the new major league team Rugby ATL, and the Women’s Premier League Harlequins. We have about 40 student-athletes, many with child development training, that supplement our volunteer parent coaches.

AYR’s SafePlay Program with Northside Hospital

Our partner Northside Hospital has helped us immensely with our SafePlay program for tackle programs; as well as helping us craft comprehensive Covid-19 return-to-play guidelines that are now cited as best practices for youth rugby in the Southeast.

Rugby contact is VERY regulated, and is a big reason why we also partner with youth football programs to teach rugby-style safe tackling.

AYR believes in inclusivity

AYR’s mission is to build character and athleticism while fostering sportsmanship and community in a fun, safe, and inclusive atmosphere.

Of the 3200 kids AYR served in 2019-2020, over 45% identify as female, 80% as ethnic minorities, and over 85% come from underserved zip codes. Outside of the school system, AYR is the only youth-sports based nonprofit that operates in ALL areas of Atlanta, bringing together kids from every background on the field for what we believe is the greatest team sport.

This inclusivity extends to our leadership under Program Director Rebecca Martin (Coach Bex), with 50% of our coaches identifying as female.

Program Director Rebecca Martin (right) with TAP Director and AYR Board member Jill Mitchell

Coach Bianca at Centennial Academy

Coach Shanice at Boy Scouts Camp

Pro team Rugby ATL AYR coaches Ryan, Kurt, and Harry

AYR Buckhead Bulls with Coaches Rob Douglass and Christian Cram

AYR is Part of the Community

AYR’s partners include Atlanta Public Schools, The Ascent Project, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Boy Scouts of America, and many more. During this past pandemic summer we worked to tackle food insecurity by helping our partners move over 250,000 pounds of food.

Team AYR tackling Covid-19 food insecurity with the YMCA and The Ascent Project

REGISTER NOW FOR WINTER SEASON! has all the latest info for Winter registration (with Covid-19 precautions) at

You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.

See you on the pitch!

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