Wreckers follow rugby's trend of growth
Updated 1:57 pm, Friday, June 24, 2011
Around the nation, rugby is attracting a dramatically increasing number of players and fans.
Rugby will be reintroduced as an Olympic sport in Brazil in 2016, with the USA being the defending champion from the 1924 Olympics. The collegiate championships are now nationally televised on NBC. Meanwhile, the Staples rugby program continues to grow and it just completed its finest season ever in its short existence. Staples finished as the fourth-ranked team in Connecticut and had six players were selected to play for Connecticut All-State All-Star team, which won the New England Championship Tournament last Saturday at UMass-Amherst.
Staples opened the season in March by winning its preseason showcase match against highly-regarded New England powerhouse Belmont High School, which is a suburb of Boston, followed by sweeping three games in the annual Fairfield Rugby Jamboree. During the regular season, the Wreckers A-side went 3-1 with wins over Simsbury, Cheshire and Madison. The lone A-side regular season blemish was a tightly contested seesaw game against Fairfield where Staples lost by two points on a late score by the home side.
During the State Championship Tournament, Staples opened against a very tough Cheshire side, playing to a regulation and overtime tie. The Wreckers ultimately defeated Cheshire on Tyler Book's penalty kick in the kickoff. Staples then faced the state champion Greenwich side and lost 17-0 in what was Greenwich's closest contested game of the tournament.
The Wreckers finished their season in the consolation game, falling to much improved host Simsbury, 17-5. Including tournaments and the showcase match, the Staples A-side compiled an 8-3 record.
Senior tri-captains Bret Epright, Ed Hickson and Jesse Sussman led Staples' 58-man squad. Epright was named to the All-State Select Side, along with fellow Seniors Adam and Andrew Washington, Yuri Lenskiy, juniors Mikell Washington (younger brother of Adam and Andrew), and Matt Cozzi.
Although the Wreckers will be losing valuable senior starters that include the three captains, as well as Evan Burke, Will Gottschalk, Yuri Lenskiy, Tyler Book and the Washington twins, they have a very bright future because of many returning starters: Juniors Mikell Washington, Chris Chu, Jackson Moss, David Levi, and Stehpan Patterson along with Sophomores Brian Book, Matt Cozzi and Jackson Yang.