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Rugby sees growth in Connecticut and beyond


By Clay Crouch ’18

Rugby is not the typical sport that comes to mind when most people think of popular high school sports. However, over the past couple of years, the sport has seen significant growth in participation amongst students.

The sport is expanding beyond the Staples community; it has become increasingly popular across the state. “Rugby is on the rise in Connecticut. There are 19 schools that play both boys and girls high school rugby in Connecticut,” Staples head coach David Lyme said. Just a couple of years ago, there were no rugby programs at the high school level.

Rugby in Westport is also growing at the youth level. “There is a youth program in Westport now and more and more kids are playing the sport,” Staples rugby captain Charlie Overton ’18 said. With rugby programs now starting at a young age, this feeder system to the high school level could rival that of football and lacrosse.

Rugby is the sixth largest sport in the world, currently above football and baseball, according to The potential growth in the U.S could have a massive impact on the game and it popularity. According to CNN there are currently 115,000 rugby players registered in the United States, which is more than traditional rugby powerhouses like Australia and the UK.

There are a lot of reasons for why rugby is on the rise in the U.S. One such reason is the fact that football, America’s most popular sport, is under intense scrutiny. “A major reason why [rugby is on the rise] is because of the stigma that football is a far more dangerous sport to play,” varsity captain of the Staples rugby team Ben Van Der Merwe ’18 said. “This has led many people to switch over sports or begin playing rugby because they’re not allowed to play football, and then they love it.”

Due to the risks football entails, many teams are even schooling their players on how to rugby tackle to prevent injuries. Reported by SBNation, the Seattle Seahawks have transitioned to using rugby style tackling in order to prevent injuries. The old way of tackling in football was not safe for players, so the coaching staff in Seattle transitioned to teaching rugby style tackling.

While it is unsure what the future may hold for this upcoming sport, things seem to be moving in the right direction for rugby and its popularity.

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