All-Star Teams from CT, NY, NJ & PA Come Together After A Long Day Of Rugby!
Connecticut Rugby is back!
One of the biggest stories leading up to the 2022 season was the introduction of a new team to the league: Trumbull High School. Led by Head Coach JT Smith, with many players brought over from the former Fairfield club team, Trumbull put every team in the state to the test, proving that they will be a serious competitor for years to come. Alongside the Division 1 Boys team was Trumbull’s Girl’s team (coached by Shannon Horan), who won the Division 2 Championship – an unheard of feat for a team in their first season. The Trumbull Girls came out on top over teams from Darien, Staples, Greenwich, North Haven, Fairfield, and Shoreline.
Divisions 1 and 2 for the girls were overseen by League Director Erin Martschenko, who is also the coach of the Greenwich Girl’s team, who won their first Division 1 State Championship over Aspetuck in a narrow finish under the lights. Girls Rugby in Connecticut has been on the rise for the last several years. Greenwich’s program started back in 2019, and just 4 years later, the girls who were freshmen in the team’s inaugural season were the ones to bring the first State Championship to Greenwich in their senior season. For years, Simsbury has held a strong hold on the entire state, but teams have finally closed the gap in skills and experience. Only a few teams make up Girls Division 1, but the competition is exceptionally tough. Greenwich came out on top after a 5-2 season with victories over Simsbury, Southington, and Aspetuck.
On that same field as the girl’s championship was the Boys Froshmore Championship, organized by Fairfield Club coach Gennaro Gelsi. In a Round Robin format, a handful of freshman/sophomore teams from across the state played in a single day tournament that saw Coach Jamie Everett’s Greenwich team finishing first with Fairfield Club as the runner-ups.
The goal of Division 2 rugby has always been to provide a development opportunity for players, but this year was especially robust. Division 2 was the largest of any division this year, with 8 teams coming from Aspetuck, Darien, Greenwich, Fairfield Prep, Staples, Simsbury, Fairfield Warde, and Southington. Many players started the season on their team’s D2 roster, but were quickly moved up to their team’s Division 1 sides as the season progressed, thanks to their quick learning and excellent development programs at these schools.
Boys Division 1 was a full-sprint from beginning to end. The regular season kicked off in March with close matches played within the state. As the season progressed, Connecticut teams played outside of the state, headlined by the always-competitive Gonzaga Tournament. Before Pete McLean, Head of the CT Rugby Competition Committee, got all the the teams together for the State Playoff, it was time for Connecticut to send three teams to the National Championships in Elkhart, Indiana. Here, Greenwich and Staples finished 6th and 7th, respectively, in the Single School Division, while Aspetuck finished 5th in the Club Division.
Back in Connecticut, it was time for the State Tournament. Fairfield Prep defended their home field against Simsbury while Trumbull took on Ridgefield in a high scoring affair that saw the underdog Trumbull team moving on. After first-round matches were completed, Staples was set to play Trumbull while Greenwich hosted Fairfield Prep, who were led by Head Coach Frank Decker in his 38th and final season.
Afterwards, the Championship Match was set: a grudge match between Staples and Greenwich. Staples took the regular season matchup while Greenwich got the best of the Wreckers at Nationals. But in the Final Game, it was all Staples. After several years climbing their way to the top, Head Coach Neil Seideman finally brought the ever-elusive first State Championship to Staples High School in a 35-7 win over Greenwich.
All season long, players were incredibly physical and aggressive to their adversaries, as is always the case in rugby, but after the final whistle was blown, players came together in a noble display of camaraderie. Coaches from teams across the State nominated their top players to form the Connecticut All-Star team. The team was captained by Greenwich’s Garrett O’Dell and Staples’ Brandon Saunders, who was named MVP of the tournament, after Connecticut reigned victorious over All-Star teams from New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Head Coach Michael Laczowski took home the trophy for the boys to make Connecticut proud. The tournament was organized by Rugby United New York’s General Manager, Steven Lewis, who, alongside USA U18 Coach, Dom Wareing, oversaw the high level of play that will define Connecticut Rugby for years to come.
The Executive Board of CT Rugby is working hard to grow the sport in the State of Connecticut through the existing and new youth / high school programs. We are focusing on competitve play and safety, while paying special attention to the spirit of the game. To protect the spirit of the game, all programs must comply with the World Rugby Laws.
Please explore our website for information about the current season and upcoming events. Please reach out to the Executive Board for any questions.