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Chuckanut Rugby Starting HS Teams In Local School District

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Chuckanut Rugby Starting HS Teams In Local School District

Photo by Julie Lewis Bromet.

Bellingham, Wash.–Varsity high school rugby is coming to Bellingham, Wash.

The Chuckanut Bay Athletic Association (CBAA) has reached a formal agreement with the Bellingham School District to develop new girls and boys rugby teams at each of three high schools in the Northwestern Washington city—Bellingham HS, Squalicum HS, and Sehome HS.

This is a huge step for the game in Whatcom County and in Washington. CBAA has run the Chuckanut age-grade teams for boys and for girls for several years. Those club teams will continue to exist, but will not draw players from the three high schools listed above. It's a risk for the Chuckanut clubs, in that they might see a dip in performance spreading the talent around like that, but, said club president Craig Brown, it's worth it.

"What we're doing is we're trying to grow the game and make it easier to play and compete," said Brown. "If it's a change from driving 30 minutes to practice to driving five minutes to practice, then we're going to see more kids playing rugby."

CBAA and the Bellingham School District have been in discussions since 2018, and they signed the agreement this month. The big issue now is to set up coaching and build rosters. There's a possibility they can put that all together for the 2020 spring season, but it's not a certainty and it may be that building the programs will take a year.

More Steps To Negotiate

Brown said he wants it al done the right way.

"Once we have coaching, we need to get each coach's certification and then formally enter or apply to enter Rugby Washington," said Brown. "I would assume they approve the request but don't want to assume anything or taking anything for granted. We are just keen to grow the game and to find a way to introduce our game to athletes."

Each team and coach needs to have the flexibility to build its own schedule.   

This is all part of a possible shift in Washington to single-school rugby. Rugby Washington has produced some excellent rugby players, but it is a small group of club teams—no single-school teams. But there is talk of some private schools in the Seattle area exploring rugby as a school sport. So it's possible that we might see four or five single-school teams in Washington by 2021 where there used to be none.

Source For Eagle Talent 

“This is a significant opportunity for aspiring student-athletes,” said Ferndale HS multi-sport standout Ben Broselle, who will be at the Dubai 7s for the USA next week and is one of several Chuckanut alumni who have achieved international honors. “Chuckanut Rugby has given so many from our area the opportunity to play a varsity college sport, represent Team USA, become a professional athlete and see the world. Giving more local high school athletes the experience I’ve had is an amazing win for the Bellingham area.”

Chuckanut Rugby Club has been in existence since 1973. It has produced 15 USA representative players, including Broselle, former USA props Shawn Pittman and Nick Wallace, and current USA front-rower Titie Lamositele.

That club will continue its work in youth rugby, which is expanding into nearby towns such as Anacortes and Burlington, and with a HS club for players in schools that don't offer rugby. But getting single-school teams going in the public school system is a massive step.

“The Bellingham School District has been a great advocate for the interests of its students,” said Brown. “Rugby embraces the culture of respect in sportsmanship. The game invites young people, of all background and abilities, to accept challenges and express themselves in the very best spirit of athletics. With so many emerging opportunities as an emerging NCAA and varsity sport, rugby is instilling qualities, offering experiences and providing opportunities that players, parents and educators embrace.”  

Coaches interested in being involved with these new high school clubs may email Craig Brown at craig@chuckanutrugby.com.