I played rugby for two years in college. One year at Rutgers in New Jersey, one year at Exeter University in England. I wasn't the most dedicated player and kept getting my ear ripped open, but the drinking kept me coming back. One of the things that I always remembered about rugby was one of the coaches made us run with a Lead Dog.
The coach, a former USA Eagle, took the slowest guy on the team and put him in the front for our warm-up runs. No one was allowed to pass the Lead Dog. I always wondered, why pick the slowest guy? Why not me? One of the faster guys? Eventually, I realized the coach wanted the slowest guy to be Lead Dog, so the warm-up didn't turn into a race.
I've recently had the good fortune to run with a few of my son's teammates on endurance runs. I've incorporated the use of a Lead Dog on the runs. The purpose is to keep the team together and prevent the slower players from trying to match the faster players. On an endurance run, especially at age 12, it's not about how fast or how far you go. It's more about how much time did you spend running. On the runs, I only have one rule - don't pass the Lead Dog.
Respect the dog!
San Elijo Hills Running Club