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Letter: HS Rugby Alive and Well on LI

High school rugby is alive and well on Long Island. The LIU19 Colts rugby club is a community-based club open to all students from ninth to 12th grade. Middle school students are welcome to come and learn the skills of the game but we cannot promise playing time as we do not schedule teams in their age bracket at the present time. High school rugby in the U.S. is strictly a spring sport. The Colts winter practice starts after Thanksgiving when the football season ends and consists of one two-hour session on Saturday or Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. depending on weather conditions. Once the season gets under way in March we go to a Tuesday and Thursday 5 p.m. practice at Glen Cove. The Colts play a 10-game schedule and field an A and B side each week. Everyone gets a full game every game day during the season. The Colts draw players from schools in Nassau County, Eastern Queens and Western Suffolk.

In rugby there is a very limited bench system permitted. Only 22 players may be put on the roster from which the starting 15 are chosen. In the course of the season each player will get on average about 500-600 minutes of playing time. Youth sport is about students competing at their athletic level of ability, not going to five days a week practice sessions and getting less than 30 minutes of playing time in the entire season as happens in lacrosse and football.

The Colts are now in their eighth season and are one of the most competitive sides in the entire Met Union area. Over the years the Colts have placed numerous players on the NY State representative sides and can boast of sending Jeff Fell to the U.S. U17 Eagles side in 2008. Our graduates are presently starting on college sides across the country. Students should consider what sport they can expect to play when they get to college. Unfortunately many students, to their dismay, find out when they finally make it to college that unless they are scholarship athletes there is very little opportunity for them to continue playing the sports they loved and enjoyed so much at the high school level. Rugby is the most popular club sport on American campuses today with over 600 men’s and 400 women’s clubs playing full fall and spring schedules. Rugby is without doubt the greatest fraternity on the planet. Wherever one goes, one will find a rugby club to welcome you with open arms. Rugby has been sanctioned for the 2016 Olympics and that will send the popularity of this great sport over the moon.

For the benefit of all those students who would like learn to play rugby coach Alan Whelan will run 10 two-hour skill sessions this fall. These clinics will give new players a chance to develop their rugby skills so they can compete for places when the full squad returns after football and soccer season is over.

These clinics will start next Saturday, Sept. 26 and continue weekly until Thanksgiving . The clinics will be held in Garden City at 11 a.m. For more details please email coach Whelan at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

We do not have a girls program. However, girls who may be considering playing rugby in college are more than welcome to come and learn the game.

Alan Whelan