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The NHS rugby is officially an IHSAA varsity sport


Photo by Kaci Craig

Mikey Marris tries to keep the ball away from his opponents.

Kaci Craig and Megan Elizabeth

    Imagine a bunch of guys of all different sizes, piled up trying to take control of a plum shaped ball, everyone tackling each other, trying to plow their way to the goal line. The group covered in sweat, blood, and purple bruises. Now imagine those same players, wearing black and gold jerseys sporting a patch with a crest featuring a large “N” and the word “Rugby.”

The NHS rugby team is filled with players of all different shapes and sizes working towards the goal of capturing a state championship this year. And this year, the team is making their run to the title as an official IHSAA varsity sport.

Senior Max Pollard, the team captain, has been playing rugby for seven years and he wants to continue to play in college.

“Rugby means everything to me,” Pollard said. “I’ve been playing non stop for seven years, and it’s probably going to get me into college.”

According to Pollard, even if the players on the team all possess different skill levels, they still think of each other as family. They are all working together to try to reach a greater goal to go onto semi-state this year.

“The team is fun. We are all best friends,” Pollard said. “We enjoy playing together and we enjoy being around each other. We always joke around. It’s a brotherhood.”

Junior Parks Groninger, one of the rugby team captains, feels the same way as Pollard.

“The thing I like most about rugby is that a brotherhood comes along with playing,” Groninger said.

The NHS rugby team has officially become a school sport this year. Since the team is now a part of the IHSAA, they are able to compete against bigger and better teams.

“It really amps up the competition now, so that’s a really good thing,” Pollard said.

John Breneman, the team’s head coach, enjoys the fact that they have more access to the school’s equipment and gym as an IHSAA sanctioned sport. Another difference that they are realizing is that more people are coming out and trying the sport.

“The difference is that we have significantly more access to school utilities, to the gyms, and the off season,” Breneman said. “I’m hoping it leads to more exposure for the students.”

Despite the rugby team being new to the IHSAA bracket, they still enjoyed success as a club sport.

Recently, the team had not seen success in the tournament until last year, when the the group went all the way to sectionals, but lost before getting to semi-state. According to Breneman, the players worked hard last year to get to where they are now.

“Last year, when I started, we made number one in our division,” Breneman said. “And we made it to state semi-finals last year.”

    While ending on that high note last year was exciting for the team, the players hope that by continuing to work hard they will get there again. they’re is excited for the possibilities that the future may hold.

    “I currently think that we are on the level [that we ended on] last year, and we can break beyond that [and] be better than we were last year,” Breneman said. “That’s a big challenge for the coach, for the leadership, and this team.”