The Greenwich High School JV Boys Rugby team capped off their season by avenging their only defeat of the year.
The team defeated Xavier in the state championship to finish with a record of 10-1.
“To make that much improvement as a team to come back and beat Xavier was the perfect end to a great season,” said Coach Michael Laczkowski.
The team had lost to Xavier by 8 points in the third week of the season. “We weren’t quite ready to play a team like that at that point in the season,” said Head Coach Michael Laczkowski. “The kids rededicated themselves to get to where we needed to be, and every week after that we got better and better.” Xavier, which happens to be Greenwich’s rival, was the only team able to play a close game with the Cardinals this season. Every other victory for Greenwich was a blowout. One positive to draw out of the lopsided matchups was that every player on the team got a solid amount of playing time, which is always a good feeling for coaches and players alike.
Being a sport picked up by some athletes in the Spring, having the opportunity to play inexperienced players was beneficial for the Cardinals. The rugby program is one of the few sports programs at GHS that does not make any cuts. All high schoolers are welcomed to come out and try their hand. “It is a type of sport you could pick up very quickly and learn,” Laczkowski said, adding, “There are a lot of great athletes in Greenwich” and the rugby team is able to tap into the pool unlike other sports.
Because the team is so dominant in so many of their games, it’s easy for coaches to get those new athletes in and give them a chance to play significant minutes.
Laczkowski explained how their system to teach players the game revolves around putting players in game scenarios as much as possible. Scrimmages during practice and real games are crucial for development of new talent.
Laczkowski said one of the reasons for the success of Greenwich High School’s rugby program is that the youth leagues (specifically run by OGRCC) granting athletes experience with the game prior to reaching the high school level.
For years, Greenwich has had an excellent rugby program dominating teams across the country. With experienced players who already know the rules of the game, they have an advantage over other schools that have to start from scratch at the beginning of each season.
“A lot of teams still learning the game couldn’t keep up with us this year,” Laczkowski recalled.
The JV rugby team is comprised of only sophomores at GHS. The coaches rely on sophomore leadership within the squad to push the team forward. Laczkowski praised a few different players for their roles among their peers.
“Dylan Maloney was a really big leader,” he said. “Carlos Dewinter is a leader because people gravitate towards him. He’s just a fun kid to be around and has an upbeat attitude. Justin [Mejia] is a quiet leader. He works hard and people tend to follow that.”
Many of the cardinals will be playing on Greenwich’s off-season club team that plays a modified seven on seven rugby style during the summer and fall.
Laczkowski said there are “big shoes to fill on varsity next year” and that he hopes prospective sophomores will step into them.
Mitchell Grimes is a member of the GHS class of 2019 and heads to Indiana University in the fall.