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A Look Around the Nation in HS Rugby

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A Look Around the Nation in HS Rugby

United is feeling confident.

So much is going on around the country in boys HS rugby it's tough to stop and just look at the trees instead of the forest; today we take a look at the forest in bunches—maybe an individual tree or two.


Just starting is the Utah team, but inside those first two weeks was another drama playing out. United, Snow Canyon, and the SLV Rhinos were informed by the Boys HS Nationals committee that their games would be used to help decide which teams would receive an invitation to the big dance Losing wouldn't necessarily cut you out, but winning got you in.

United responded with two pretty emphatic victories, 32-10 over Snow Canyon and 52-5 over SLV. That kind of settled it, and also prompted several observers from Utah to contact GRR and tell them that United was the real deal. We believe you.

Program Director Colin Puriri is usually happy to fly under the radar, but you can't hide the results.

"We knew early we would be good," Puriri told GRR. "But it's exciting finding out how good. We knew we had athletes, a lot of athletes, but only returning five starters this was a very inexperienced group. They continue to improve every game and every practice."

Puriri credits new Head Coach Chase Matua, whose father, Seti, helped coach at United for a long time and is now coaching at Utah Valley University. 

Chase Matua played for United and has some other former players, several who were on the 2013 team that won a national title, and have brought a new perspective to the program.

"They've built upon the systems and structure that have been in place for awhile and been able to plug these athletes into almost every hole," said Puriri. 

One local high school that supplies United players, Lone Peak, won the state football championship, and there were rugby players on that team. They talked up rugby and brought a bunch of players with them. This move attracted football players from nearby American Fork HS.

"I don't think we've had a more athletic team since 2010 when we beat Highland for the first time," said Puriri. They have depth, too, despite having a lot of players new to rugby on the squad.

Prop/No. 8 Savea Fitisemanu (prop/#8) and prop Spencer Torgenson lead a strong forward effort. Scrumhalf Matt Brown scored three tries against the Rhinos. Flyhalf Nick Lavulavu takes good control of game and he has two of Lone Peak football's running backs, Luke Durfey and Jaxson Willits, in the centers. Wings Spencer Fotu and Micah Belliston can finish, and fullback Aiden Lewis, "who's thundering voice anchors our defense," added Puriri.

"We're excited and looking at every game as an opportunity to improve, got some big games coming up with rematches against Herriman and Genesis," he said.

South Carolina

South Carolina HS rugby is rebuilding, with Greer coming along, Wando always there, and Cape Fear a team to think about. This past weekend they played their first ever full-length game, ending up with a 17-12 victory over Wando.

Wando scored first and converted to take the lead, but flanker Charlie Bishop answered back with a bruising run from 40 meters out. Down 7-5 in the second half, Cape Fear No. 8 Wayne Robinson powered over for his side to take the lead. Wando answered back with a quick tap off a penalty. Then with less then five minutes left Zay Arrington fielded a kick at midfield returned it by cutting through a host of defenders, scoring under the posts. Max Smith converted to give Fear the win 17-12.

Wando kicked the ball well but fullback Carey Cortes was excellent in getting under the ball and countering. Scrumhalf Marshall Wiseman and flyhalf Tyler Thompson kicked well for territory.

Coming off a 1-0-2 showing at Carolina Ruggerfest, Cape Fear was looking to make something happen. They had been so close to going 3-0. 

"Seeing the team have some early success has been fun," said Jim Wiseman, whose son, scrumhalf Marshall, has done an excellent job recruiting for the new team. "I have challenged them to jump right in and try to play a more complex style than most beginning teams I have coached in the past. We are running the same system that we run at UNCW and Cape Fear. They have been quick learners."

Rugby PA

The Pennsylvania season starts this coming week, and we've already seen Gregory the Great, especially, show well. Berks is one of those teams playing highly-ranked opposition to learn and grow. They lost to Fort Hunt in a weird game where Fort Hunt played a less experienced group in the first half, fell behind 31-0, and then ran in some more experienced players and won the second half 40-0. Berks and Fort Hunt learned a lot from that one.

High-Ranked Seek High-Ranked

St. Ignatius beat Gonzaga, who beat Royal Irish, who beat Fort Hunt, all in West Virginia. Got that? St. Ignatius has started very well and as we outlined here, they don't have the attitude that anything will be handed to them, despite returning most of their starting lineup from last year's national runners-up. Fort Hunt were undone by some magic from Royal Irish flyhalf Tommy Hannon, said Head Coach Dale Roach.

Penn beat Moeller in a game that gives an indication that Penn has indeed improved from last year (which we knew they would). Their defense showed improvement and after giving up a relatively soft try to start the game Penn scored twice to take the lead and held on from there. Things seem kind of up in the air in Indiana, and that's a good thing.

Woodlands capped off their trip to Southern California with an impressive win over the SOC Raptors. Aspetuck kept up their high-ranking games with a win over a tough Vienna side>>

Dwenger Bounces Back to Defeat Detroit CC

St. Edward, Raleigh Redhawks Make Mark in Kentucky. Both St. Ed's and Raleigh have a rival to chase and are doing a good job of setting up those clashes. Both Dwenger and St. Ed's are looking for a place at nationals. They might both get there.

St. Thomas Aquinas and Bixby both went on to with our sponsor, Irish Rugby Tours (and as you know, we did too). STA had a competitive win, a tie, and a very close loss in their games, and that's the value of using IRT to help get your games.

Northern California

Granite Bay continues to roll and so does De La Salle. There are other teams playing well also. SFGG keeps on winning and beat East Palo Alto 26-5. Paddy Casey has been really good at flyhalf and flanker Connor McBride is a big contributor on defense. With carries from prop Justin Seumanu and some pace from wing Levi Cervantez off the bench they can hand with just about everyone.

Jesuit got a big win over Marin. Fullback Roanin Krieger has kicked very well and center Adam Hammond scored a key try to keep Marin at bay. Flanker AJ Blomquist was also strong. 

DLS beat Danville 49-29. Head Coach Derek Holmberg said they dug deep, and they did. DLS has been playing a lot of tough teams now without their starting openside Andrew Julien (broken tibia) and their leading scorer (center Dominic Besag) as well as injured lock Noah Banister, they kind of limped into this one. They battled on, however, even when Danville scored two quick tries to make it 34-29. Flanker Sam Carlson was crucial and his second try of the day kind of sealed it. Center Marley Alapati and lock Matthew Abbes were also key.

Southern California

The club season is kicking off, and we'll see matchups like South Bay vs Back Bay, Belmont Shore vs Raptors, and Thunder vs OMBAC just to start out. There's a new team called Try Time. 


Is New Orleans Jesuit a top 10 school team? They sure look like it.

New York

We finally are seeing some action in New York with Xavier playing winning a fractious, physical game over St. Anthony's, and Pelham taking a result 17-5 over Ridgefield. Good defense helped Pelham make up for a shaky attack. Their set piece and tackling were good but made too many errors with the ball. No. 8 Will Otindi and lock Davitt Barrett stood out.


Oregon just started and it's wise to reserve judgment. Camas, Eastside, Summit, and West Valley all won (you might notice that all four winning margins were 35, and that's because Rugby Oregon caps published winning margins at that level). Washington is coming back. Idaho just started and we found out that Owyhee, Eagle, and possibly Rugby are strong.