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High School Programs Inch Their Way Back

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High School Programs Inch Their Way Back

Rocky Mountain HS out of Idaho saw their girls play in the fall. Now for the boys? Jeff Stiles photo.

High School rugby may be returning in the field this spring, at least in some areas.

Of course states are varied in how they have dealt with high school sports, and with some football or soccer seasons being bumped to the spring, other sports, such as rugby, have had to adjust.

Just about every team or league we've spoken to is delaying the start of the season, and shortening the season. It looks like Texas will be able to play, and it's probably we'll see some games in Florida, as well as the Midwest. Tennessee might play (Germantown seems optimistic) and the Arkansas Junior Stormers have a schedule planned.

And Idaho? Well they, like Utah, ran a season last fall, with their girls playing a pretty full fall of 7s tournaments. We'd expect them to be able to do the same this spring, right?


Schools vs Clubs

Private schools have a little bit more control over their environment than club teams, and in fact for some club teams they are sitting waiting for things to open up enough to start recruiting players. The private schools, mainly the Catholic schools, have enough of a relationship with their rugby programs to map out a plan to return to play. There's another side to that coin—they have to follow the school rules no matter what.

But it appears that the major Catholic school programs will be able to play. It now just comes down to how hard-hit the school's region is. Some, like St. Thomas Aquinas in the Kansas City area look on track to start relatively close to their regular start date. Gonzaga, despite being in Washington DC, where COVID has not been especially devastating, likely won't start playing games until April.

At the same time, other teams that are connected to schools have some work to do.  As one coach from a single-school team told us: "I am optimistic. We are working on a protocol and hoping to get going soon." 

COVID Rules Rugby?

We may also see some different playing rules come along. Similar to the summer where some 7s leagues had no rucks or eliminated scrums, we might see something along those lines for this year.  

So, as with everything else about the Pandemic Times, the situation is fluid. Coaches are desperately trying to be prepared for when they can get their teams moving again, and some are already doing it—splitting up units, working on non-contact, or taking advantage of mild weather. And there remain some variables, including how referees, parents as spectators, and travel fit into all of this.

But slowly, and in a meandering way, high school rugby teams are getting back on the field.