Penn Hills High School to form boys rugby team
Penn Hills High School may soon have a boys rugby team.
School directors voted 6-0 Monday night to approve a one-year pilot program at no cost to the district other than transportation to and from competitions.
Rugby is a contact sport believed to have originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. It’s usually played with two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a field with H-shaped goalposts.
It has many elements of American football, but with no shoulder and other pads.
Each team can carry, kick or pass the ball to the end zone.
District Athletic Director Stephanie Strauss said the idea for the team came from sophomore Charlie Rosemeyer, who played rugby for Woodland Hills School District because Penn Hills didn’t have a team.
She said they organized a meeting to gauge student interest in the sport, and 19 students showed up. The idea was then presented to the athletic committee and eventually the school board for approval.
“I think it shows that we support their interest and want to give them the resources to carry out those ideas,” Strauss said.
Strauss said the next step will be to get together with potential players, put together a practice schedule and set field time for the spring.
Anyone interested in joining or supporting the high school team should contact Strauss at 412-793-7000 ext.5206 or email [email protected]
The rugby season would be from March through May. Possible opponents include West Allegheny, Moon, Kiski Area, North Allegheny and Hollidaysburg Area school districts.
Strauss said volunteer coaches may be available through USA Rugby. Coaches would have to obtain proper clearances and school board approval.
Board member Rob Marra said he played rugby for years while studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and beyond, and is excited about it coming to Penn Hills.
“It’s a great sport,” Marra said. “It’s a fantastic thing and good for the school district.”
Marra recommended reaching out to the Pittsburgh Harlequins Rugby Football Association, a nonprofit youth mentoring organization.
It uses a volunteer network of nationally certified rugby coaches and players to provide community programs to disadvantaged youths throughout Allegheny County.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .