Rugby is on the rise at Staples
There's another sport growing rapidly at Staples right in the midst of the lacrosse boom and the baseball, boys golf and volleyball team's recent success.
That sport is rugby and it's taken off at Staples like a fly-half racing for a try.
"When I came on in 2003, we had about 25 boys try out. This year we have 61 on the roster," said Oscar Barahona, the genial third-year head coach of Wrecker Rugby. At Staples, rugby is considered a varsity sport even though there is no official state or FCIAC association of schools yet. The Wreckers play schools from as far away as Massachusetts (Belmont High School) and as close as a combined team from the two Fairfield high schools, Warde and Ludlowe.
Like soccer, rugby is played all over the world and recently has been catching on in the U.S. The sport combines the talents of other sports like soccer, football and even a little of basketball. "
One thing that's attractive for kids today is that there's a position and a role on a rugby team for every kind of athlete, big or small, fast or slow," continued Barahona, who also teaches Spanish at Staples. "Everybody makes our team so they can learn the sport properly and improve along with everyone else."
The 2011 team has started off well with victories in each of its first five matches. The annual Rugby Jamboree at Fairfield last month brought a number of squads together for a full 12 hours of rugby action with the Wreckers coming out on top. In their only home match of this season, Staples beat Simsbury handily on the Wrecker football field.
Senior co-captain Jesse Sussmane, who played both soccer and lacrosse in past years, has found his passion in rugby. "It's entirely about the team. You can't be successful in rugby without everyone pulling their weight," says Sussmane who wants to keep playing "for the rest of my life."
Another co-captain, British native Ed Hickson, came to rugby from a different perspective; he grew up with rugby as a major national sport in England and his interest came naturally. A senior, Hickson credits his coach for elevating the program at Staples. "Coach Barahona really turned it around by giving us a sense of determination and discipline."
The third co-captain is Bret Epright and he is clear about why he likes rugby. "I love the contact and the continuous action in each game," said the sophomore Epright. "We're really starting to play well and work more as a team."
With the season underway and the end-of-year state tournament set for late May in Simsbury, the Wreckers are on a roll. After a recent match that Staples won, Barahona received an email from the opposing coach praising the Staples players and the program.
"The coach told me he was impressed with our talent and politeness and that we were a classy club," Barahona related. "When all is said and done, that's what's important."
If anyone wants to learn more about the basics of rugby, go to this website for a good tutorial on the sport: http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/sports/A0842645.htm