Junior Rippa Gridiron League trainer Devon Scott and head coach Mark Rais are hoping more Nelson youth will take part in their summer competition. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

Bringing America’s favourite sport to Nelson


Mark Rais isn’t here to convert. In fact, he will happily admit that he loves rugby too. But his grand plan is to get Nelson youth into his favourite sport – American football.

Often regarded as a physical, brutal sport – just look at the protection they wear – Mark is bringing the Junior Rippa Gridiron League to Saxton Field, bypassing the high contact from where it gets its reputation.

“This is just like rippa rugby,” Mark, the competition’s head coach explains. “There’s no physical tackling. You use the belts and pull off the flag which indicates the person is down.”

While most winter sports have now concluded, Mark believes it is the perfect time to start the competition, as it will give youth a chance to keep active and involved in sport at a time they might be resting instead.

The league starts on October 18 with registration on October 4 for boys and girls between the ages of 9-16. The cost is $20 for the season and the games will be played on Fridays at 4pm. Practices will be on Wednesdays at 4pm. All games will be played and registration completed at the gridiron field across from the Saxton Hockey Turf.