Column: Rugby on the Bayou

The Bayou Hurricanes Rugby Team getting hyped up.

Look out St Charles Parish … Category 5 Bayou Hurricane Rugby Team is here and making an impact

By Amy Lottinger

When my high school senior was leaving one day, I asked, “where are you off to?” His reply, “I signed up for the rugby team. Coach is picking me up for practice.”

Wait, what? Rugby team?!

We have a rugby team in St Charles Parish? Fun! So I went to the TV to put on a rugby game. I mean, match, a rugby match! I had no clue what was going on. Why are they all in a line like that? Nobody is blocking for that guy? And what in the world is going on with that ball? It looks kinda like a football, but more round and bigger. I had no idea about rugby and what to expect but was excited for the opportunity of one last chance to be involved with my soon-to-be-gone senior. So … I will need to learn these rules.

I was excited to explore the world of rugby … and what a world it is. When I first watched the game I found myself asking the whole time… “What just happened? Why did he do that?” But thanks to the parents on the sideline, I soon began to understand the fantastic and exciting game of rugby.

Here’s the breakdown…

The objective is to advance the ball pass the goal line, and place the ball on the ground for a 5 point “try” (that’s rugby for touchdown). The try is then followed up with a kick through the goal posts, “a conversion” worth two points. After a team scores, the game continues on with a make’em/take’em style kick-off from the other team. The team with the most points at the end of the 80 minute game wins.

During play, the ball is only allowed to be passed back or sideways, or kicked forward. There is no blocking allowed, and only the guy with the ball can be tackled. I must say, I have never seen such a controlled form of tackling. Since there are no pads and helmets in rugby it is very important for the rules and techniques of play to be respected. There is no tackling above the shoulders. Disregarding this rule and any dangerous styles of play will result in sitting out of the game for a period of time. It’s like you have to wrap your arms around the guy and bring him to the ground.

Once the man with the ball is tackled and brought to ground he must release the ball on the ground and the tackling man must quickly roll off. Sometimes during play, the player will choose to kick the ball forward in hopes of following it and retrieving it before the other team.

This move takes some planning because otherwise it seems they are just handing the ball over to the opposing team. As they move forward to the goal, there are various plays involved: Lineouts, mauls, rucks, scrums.

These are the times you will find yourself saying … “what in the world are they doing?” It took me a good 4 games but I think I got it now. Of course after this last championship game (WooHoo! We made the championship!) I am questioning my understanding of the advantage for the non-offending side. The referee would stop play even when we had the advantage in order to penalize the other team, stopping many of our opportunities of possibly scoring. I will have to research that one and learn the appropriate fan banter for the games to come. At the end of the 80 minutes of play time, the winning team jumps, hollars and grunts. There is a lot of grunting in rugby.

Definitely a game filled with testosterone. But then, the testosterone resides and the losing team celebrates one player from the winning team with a man of the match title and a team shirt. After my son played his first rugby game, he came home, quickly changed and exclaimed, “Rugby is so cool, now both teams are going out to eat together!” Rugby is known to be a sport of sportsmanship and camaraderie. I am a fan.

The Bayou Hurricanes are a Rugby team based out of Raceland and is composed of players from Central Lafourche, H.L. Bourgeois, Destrehan and Hahnville high schools. I want to thank Coaches Gregg Dinicola (founder), Brendan Weaver, Cade Austin and Glenn Hewitt for teaching these kids, young men, how to play this wonderful game of skill, technique, strength and endurance. Apparently rugby is gaining popularity and expanding across the USA. There are nine high school teams ranging across the southeast area with New Orleans being at the center.

Our very own Bayou Hurricanes is one of those nine teams. Wow! How fortunate we are to be on the cutting edge of high school rugby in the U.S. What a great opportunity and an exciting new world to be opened up for these boys (boys for now, apparently there is a women’s world of rugby out there as well).

The Bayou Hurricanes are titled 2018-2019 Louisiana 2nd place Rugby Team with 1st place going to Jesuit. WooHoo! It’s not over yet… Both teams will move on to play at the South Regionals.

Also, congratulations to selected Louisiana Rugby All-State players:

1st Team – Coby Bahena, Gabe Cardenas, Reece Guidry and Ryen Weaver.

2nd team – Cade Austin, Julian Brezinsky, Jansen Folse and Isaac Weaver.

Check out The Bayou Hurricanes Rugby Football Club Facebook page for more info.

 

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