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Improved training key to Staples rugby's turnaround

Published 12:31 pm, Friday, April 19, 2013
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The Staples High rugby team has made a speedy turnaround after going winless a year ago.

A new commitment to an offseason workout program, coupled with a few adjustments on the field, have sparked the Wreckers to a 2-0 start. The Wreckers opened their year with a 22-15 win at Cheshire on March 27, then defeated Darien 31-12 on April 5.

Barahona said that the team brought in two trainers -- Jeff Lauzon, a wrestling coach, and Gio Pagliari -- to assist the players in cardio and weight-training workouts.

"Last year we only had a handful of guys that were going to the gym," Barahona recalls. "Now we have most of the A-side guys that are kind of working out to their fitness levels pretty good. ... They're hungry."

The Wreckers have had players step up at numerous positions, and some players have moved to new spots this spring. Spencer Warner, who played forward last year, has been a steady presence at inside center.

"He's just a good solid defensive guy, and offensive guy as well," Barahona said.

Barahona also praised sophomore Will Newman as a contributor at fly-half.

"He's really, really a solid player," the coach said. "He stepped up in a different position and he's just doing awesome as far as his hands, and just distributing the ball. He's doing a really good job at that."

Barahona also credited Jackson Yang -- one of the team's four captains -- and mentioned that the senior has gotten a lot of the team's tries.

"As always, Jackson Yang has just been phenomenal," Barahona said.

The coach said that moving forward, the team's goal is to play "smarter" rugby. The Wreckers were scheduled to play perennial power Greenwich on April 11, but Barahona instead chose to have his A-side play the Cardinals' B-side. The match ended in a 22-22 tie.

"At the end of the day, sometimes it's just a size thing. Sometimes you can't compete against that, and you get injuries," he said.

Staples plays at Fairfield Prep on April 26.

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour

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