Students build new rugby team, create a following within the high school
I n finding a niche for the sport they love, seniors Jamie Barlow, Corey Johns and Bobby Hamilton built what is now the “new team” on campus. With experience in summer club rugby teams, Barlow recruited friends, football players, wrestlers and lacrosse players within the high school, hoping to create a successful rugby team at UAHS. With the strong interest in participation, the team found that support came naturally.
Barlow took it into his own hands to set up the team this past spring along with help from his friends by recruiting new players and coaches.
“To set up the team I didn’t have to do much besides try and convince the guys playing to commit to the sport and continue to come out to practice,” Barlow said. “All an athlete needs [to do is] to fill out waivers and pay around 100 dollars. As a team we voted on jerseys and bought those as well as shorts and team apparel.”
Barlow described what it is like to be a part of the new team, with around 30 players accounting for two teams and players from all grades.
“All players are involved, and also coaches,” Barlow said. “The atmosphere is more relaxed than a varsity sport at the high school, and no one gets cut.”
Although all participants have been included this season, the competitiveness continues to stay the same. Barlow said the athletes have maintained a focus on excellence throughout the season.
“Our team has been progressing at a phenomenal rate,” he said. “Everyone knows where to be on the field, what to do in certain game situations, the rules of the game and how to be successful on both offense and defense.”
Johns believes the success of the team is due to the strong bond between him and his teammates, along with their dedication to the freshly-built team.
“Were all really into it now, we’re all a bunch of goons who stopped playing traditional sports and and are now devoted to rugby,” he said “We all get along well and are like brothers to one another. We have bonded over building up the team.”
Barlow believes that the competition for the team, returning to the field after playing as a joint team with Hilliard last season, is now better then ever.
“We have a lot of [division I and division II] football players, wrestlers [and] soccer players playing on teams from Westerville, Pickerington and even our team, so the competition athletically is definitely there,” he said.
Johns agrees on the aggressiveness the players brought to the league this season.
“The teams we’ve played have been pretty easy, we have killed a lot of them,” he said. “In tournaments we have been able to play Canadian teams. We have a lot of senior football players and people who got cut from lacrosse, and athletes who wanted a place to go. There are four of us where it’s our first year playing where the other teams have been playing for a couple years together, which shows how far we’ve come.”
The team has high hopes as they progress in their season and in the future of the high school.
“The mission of this season is to win the state title in our division [division II], which is a very possible goal,” Barlow said. “Everyone on the team is on board to put in the work to accomplish this goal and by the end of the year, the rugby team should have a state title under its belt along with state championship rings.”
As of press time, the team had a record of 9-3, and are continuing on with their season. Players are striving to improve the team for the years to come. Johns shares his input on how the team will continue to achieve success within the state tournament (as of press time, tournament was yet to be conducted) now that the seeds have been planted.
“Our goal is to win the state tournament,” he said. “I think that we have a good chance since during the season we killed most of the teams we played.”