Indiana High School Rugby

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Indiana has become one of the premiere states for high school rugby, with the boys' top league, the Super League, crowned the 2014 toughest high school league.[1] Indiana teams have claimed multiple national and regional championships.[2] At the start of the 2016 season, there were approximately fifty boys teams and fifteen girls teams competing in Indiana.[3] The fifty boys teams were organized into four programs in the Super League, eight in Division 1, twelve in Division 2, and one developmental side. In addition to varsity competition, many programs also contest in junior varsity and developmental competitions, allowing programs to put forth multiple teams.

Governance[edit]

Unlike most high school sports in Indiana, governed by the Indiana High School Athletic Association, rugby in Indiana is governed by the Indiana Youth Rugby Foundation, Inc., which was formed in 1999[4] to replace the Indiana Youth Rugby Association, Inc. (1990–1999).[5] The foundation operates under the brand Rugby Indiana[6] and is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit corporation that operates outside the governing structure of the Indiana Rugby Football Union.[7] Rugby Indiana's stated vision is:

  • To make rugby a legitimate high school sport opportunity for all athletes by providing a great experience on and off the field, and by gaining recognition in High School, Middle School, and Grade School administrations
  • Stimulate the quality, growth and development of Rugby at the High School and Youth level
  • To raise awareness of, and educate the general public about the sport of Rugby[8]

Top performing teams may also compete in a regional competition governed by the Midwest Rugby Football Union and a national invitational competition. These competitions, unlike Indiana state-level competition, make a distinction between whether teams are composed of players drawn from a single school or a club program open to multiple student bodies.

Play and participation[edit]

As Allyn Freeman explained in an article for RugbyToday.com, "America's high schools represented the last place of expansion" for domestic rugby.[9] Although slow to catch on, rugby at the high school level has exploded in growth since the close of the twentieth century. From 2008–2013, rugby participation grew by 81% in the United States, while participation in American football fell 21.1% in the same span.[10] In 2014, participation reached 1.2 million,[11] making rugby the fastest growing sport in the United States.[12] As of 2011, Indiana Rugby boasted 1,227 players at the high school level (902 boys, 325 girls).[13]

Lineout during Fishers v. Avon, 2016 D1 Varsity Boys Final

Unlike senior level clubs, which play two forty-minute halves, youth rugby in the United States is capped below the traditional eighty-minute match. In Indiana, matches are scheduled for two thirty-minute halves, with players not allowed to participate in more than ninety minutes of scheduled match time in a single day. In competitions in which teams compete in multiple matches, the total length of the match is truncated to comport with the ninety-minute daily cap, thus, the matches are contested at two halves each of 22.5 minutes in duration. Matches consist of fifteen players on the field for each team along with eight reserves on the bench (23 total).[8] Matches will end in a draw if level at the end of full-time unless in a championship competition. In a championship competition, if the match is level at full-time, an additional ten-minute sudden death period is played. If the match remains level after sudden death, then the outcome is decided on drop kicks. If multiple matches are to be contested in a single day, the sudden death period is foregone.[8] Coed play at the high school level is not permitted.[8] The coed prohibition was tested in May 2001 by the Mishawaka High School boys squads' attempt to include Nicole Kodba in its playoff lineup. Despite arguments from her coach and a community petition, Kodba was not allowed to compete for the boys team.[14]

Rugby Indiana's season is broken into three different phases: a competitive season from March through June, a select side season (akin to all-star teams) from June through July, and a non-competitive fall season from September through October.[13] Based upon team participation, competition is held across a divisional and conference structure. At the top of the boys' competition is the Super League, comprising four teams. The next tier is Division 1 which divides eight teams among a north and south conference. In addition to the typical varsity competition, both Division 1 and the Super League hold a junior varsity competition that competes for a state championship. Below Division 1 is Division 2, which presently includes twelve teams split into north and south conferences. At times, Rugby Indiana has also conducted a developmental league to aid new programs. When participation is sufficient, the girls competition is broken into two divisions.[13] In 2016, only a single division was used for girls rugby spread across north and south conferences of unequal numbers.[15]

In order for players to compete, they must be registered both with Rugby Indiana and USA Rugby. Players must also not have reached nineteen years of age prior to September 1. Girls in the 8th grade who are at least 14 years of age may, at the head coach's discretion, compete on a high school team. Players must be enrolled in high school, enrolled in a GED program, or meet the standards of Indiana home school requirements. Players are also required to attend at least four practices with coached supervised tackling prior to participation in a sanctioned match. Players are also required to hold amateur status.[13]

Boys Championships[edit]

2016 D1 Varsity Boys Award Presentation

Super League[edit]

In 2014, four perennial powerhouse teams formed a new top tier, supplanting Division 1 as the highest tier. The original four teams forming the Super League were Brownsburg, the Royal Irish Rugby Club based out Cathedral and Bishop Chatard, Notre Dame de La Salette of Georgetown, Illinois, and Penn. Each team has reached tremendous heights on the national stage: the Royal Irish have claimed four national titles (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017),[16] Brownsburg claimed the 2005 Tier II national championship,[17] and both Penn and La Salette have reached the national finals.[2] After the 2014 season, this prolonged success led Goff Rugby Report to declare the Indiana Super League the toughest high school league in the United States.[1] In 2017, Notre Dame de La Salette began to compete in Illinois, leaving the four-team super league structure missing a fourth team. The Super League was expanded to nine teams split into two divisions. In the North Division were Bishop Dwenger, Carroll, Culver, and Penn. In the South Division were Brownsburg, Fishers, Hamilton Southeast, Royal Irish, and St. Xavier. At seasons end, Royal Irish, fresh off a national championship, would edge Penn for the Super League title.[18] The restructured competition also introduced the Challenge Cup as a consolation competition at the state playoffs. In 2019, the Super League contracted to seven teams with St. Xavier and Hamilton Southeastern dropping to Division 1.

Varsity State Champion[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2014 May 31, 2014 Royal Irish 7–5[19] Penn Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Brownsburg[20]
Notre Dame de La Salette
Noah Schrader[19]
Royal Irish
2015 May 30, 2015 Penn 33–14[21] Royal Irish Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Brownsburg
Notre Dame de La Salette
Inoke Moala[22]
Penn
2016 May 30, 2016 Royal Irish (2) 23–19[23] Penn Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Brownsburg
Notre Dame de La Salette
David Hannon[24]
Royal Irish
2017 May 29, 2017 Royal Irish (3) 19–15[18] Penn Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Fishers
Carroll
Gabe Coleman[18]
Royal Irish
2018 May 28, 2018 Royal Irish (4) 17–12[25] Fishers Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Penn
Culver
Andy Guhl

Royal Irish

2019 May 27, 2019 Royal Irish (5) 20–12[26] Penn Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Brownsburg
Fishers
Russell Lemaster

Royal Irish

Varsity Challenge Cup Champion[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2017 May 29, 2017 Culver 31–12[27] St. Xavier Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Bishop Dwenger
Hamilton Southeast
2018 May 28, 2018 Carroll 28–23[28] Bishop Dwenger Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Brownsburg

Junior Varsity State Champion[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists
2014 May 31, 2014 Notre Dame de La Salette (JV) 29–17[19] Penn (JV) Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Brownsburg (JV)
Royal Irish (JV)[20]
2015 May 30, 2015 Penn (JV) 19–17[29] Royal Irish (JV) Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Brownsburg (JV)
Notre Dame de La Salette (JV)
2016 May 30, 2016 Royal Irish (JV) 29–22[30] Penn (JV) Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Brownsburg (JV)
Notre Dame de La Salette (JV)
2017 May 29, 2017 Penn (JV) (2) 29-14[31] Fishers (JV) Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Royal Irish (JV)
Carroll (JV)
2018 May 28, 2018 Fishers (JV) 31-12[32] Royal Irish (JV) Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Culver (JV)
Penn (JV)

Junior Varsity Challenge Cup Champion[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2017 May 29, 2017 Hamilton Southeast (JV) 34–19[33] Bishop Dwenger (JV) Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Culver (JV)
St. Xavier (JV)
2018 May 28, 2018 Carroll (JV) 36–7[34] Bishop Dwenger (JV) Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Brownsburg (JV)

Division 1[edit]

Varsity State Champion[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
1990 May 13, 1990 Lawrence Central 3–0 Northside Raiders American Heritage Park
Indianapolis, IN
Charlton
Red Devils
1991 May 11, 1991 Lawrence Central (2) 11–0 Lawrence North Lake Sullivan Sports Complex
Indianapolis, IN
Ben Davis (3rd)
North Central

1992 May 9, 1992 Ben Davis 4–0 North Central Lake Sullivan Sports Complex
Indianapolis, IN
Cathedral (3rd)
Lawrence North
1993 May 2, 1993 Ben Davis (2) 16–11 Knightstown Cathedral (3rd)
Lawrence North

1994 May 7, 1994 Knightstown 17–0 Carmel Wellington (3rd)
Ben Davis

1995 May 6, 1995 Wellington 27–10 Carmel Lake Sullivan Sports Complex
Indianapolis, IN
North Central (3rd)
Morton Memorial

1996 May 4, 1996 Morton/Knightstown 5–0 Wellington North Central (3rd)
Ben Davis

1997 May 24, 1997 North Central 29–0 Penn Lake Sullivan Sports Complex
Indianapolis, IN
Columbus (3rd)
Jonathan Younger (MVP) &
Adam Stockholm (MVB)
North Central
1998 May 9, 1998

1999 North Central [35] Penn

2000 May 27, 2000 Bloomington South 22–0 Carmel Lake Sullivan Sports Complex
Indianapolis, IN
Penn

2001* May 12, 2001 Cathedral 18–5 North Central Major Taylor Velodrome
Indianapolis, IN
Marian
Pike

2002 Penn 37–8 North Central Mishawaka
Pike
Tim Bugg
Penn
2003 May 24, 2003 Penn 29–17 Pike Cathedral
Marian
Ben Weber
Penn
2004 Bishop Dwenger[36] 14–5[37] Pike River Road Park Carmel, IN

2005 May 30, 2005 Penn 20–17 Brownsburg Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Marian
Pike

2006 Cathedral North Central Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Marian

2007 May 28, 2007 North Central 22–3[38] Brownsburg Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Marian
Penn

2008 May 26, 2008 Cathedral Royal Irish [39] Richard Wigh Fields
Columbus, IN


2009 May 25, 2009[40] Cathedral Royal Irish [39] Penn Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN

Jason Harker
Penn
2010 May 31, 2010 Cathedral Royal Irish [39] Brownsburg Richard Wigh Fields[41]
Columbus, IN


2011 May 30, 2011 Cathedral Royal Irish 15–10[39] Penn Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Brownsburg

2012 May 28, 2012 Cathedral Royal Irish 38–12 Penn Richard Wigh Fields
Columbus, IN
Carmel
Notre Dame de La Salette

2013 May 27, 2013 Cathedral Royal Irish 24–21 Penn Cyntheanne, Park
Fishers, IN
Brownsburg
Max Schroeder[42]
Cathedral Royal Irish
2014 May 31, 2014 North Central 29–22[43] Fishers Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Culver
Hamilton Southeastern
Trevor Shirley
North Central
2015 May 30, 2016 Hamilton Southeastern 7–5[44] Fishers Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Bishop Dwenger
Avon
Tyler Janney[22]
Hamilton Southeastern
2016 May 30, 2016 Fishers 76–3[45] Avon Cyntheanne, Park
Fishers, IN
Bishop Dwenger
North Central
Trent Nielson
Fishers
2017 May 29, 2017 Carmel 21-10[46] Avon Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Leo
Trinity
2018 May 28, 2018 Leo 29–24 Avon Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Noblesville
North Central
2019 May 27, 2019 Leo 38–5[47] North Central Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Avon
Noblesville

* – Penn did not compete in state tournament due to conflict with national championship tournament schedule.

Varsity Challenge Cup[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2017 May 29, 2017 North Central 27-22[48] Warsaw Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Columbus
Zionsville
2018 May 28, 2018 Arsenal Tech 31–12[49] Angola Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Carmel
Columbus
2019 May 27, 2019 Carmel 55–5[50] Arsenal tech Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Marian
Trinity

Junior Varsity[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2012 May 28, 2012 Penn (JV) 10–7 Cathedral (JV) Richard Wigh Fields
Columbus, IN
Carmel (JV)

2013 May 27, 2013 Penn (JV) 39–7 Notre Dame de La Salette (JV) Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Brownsburg
Cory Christman
Penn
2014 May 31, 2014 Hamilton Southeastern (JV) 13–12[51] Fishers (JV) Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Culver (JV)
North Central (JV)

2015 May 30, 2015 Bishop Dwenger (JV) 18–0[52] Hamilton Southeastern (JV) Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Fishers (JV)
Charlie Perez
Bishop Dwenger
2016 May 30, 2016 Fishers (JV) 63–0[52] Hamilton Southeastern (JV) Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Bishop Dwenger (JV)
Mason Miller
Fishers

Division 2[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
1992 May 9, 1992 Lawrence North 26–0 Morton Memorial Lake Sullivan Fields
Indianapolis, IN
Scecina (3rd)
Franklin Central

1997 Carmel [53] Lawrence

1998 Carmel 15–10 Lawrence

1999 May 9, 1999 Pike 38–12 Carmel Major Taylor Velodrome
Indianapolis, IN


2000 Marian [54]

2001

2002

2003

2004 Hamilton Southeastern [3]

2005 May 30, 2005 Columbus 16–15[55] Bloomington North Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Penn (B)

2006 Penn (B) 23–15 Cathedral (B) Lawrence North
Noblesville

2007 May 28, 2007 Noblesville 12–7[38] Columbus Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Edgewood
Penn (B)

2008 May 26, 2008 Hamilton Southeastern [35] Pendleton Richard Wigh Fields
Columbus, IN
Columbus

2009 May 25, 2009[40] Cathedral (B) Hamilton Southeastern[35] Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
South Bend Mercenaries

2010 May 31, 2010 Zionsville [56] Columbus Richard Wigh Fields[41]
Columbus, IN
Penn (JV) (3rd)
Noblesville (4th)

Columbus, IN
2011 May 30, 2011 Penn (JV) 12–5[13] Bloomington Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Lawrence

Zionsville


2012 Columbus 15–13[55] Culver Richard Wigh Fields
Columbus, IN
Indianapolis Tech
Zionsville

2013 May 27, 2013 Arsenal Tech [42] Carroll
Shawn Nevers[42]
Arsenal Tech
2014 May 31, 2014 Warsaw 29–10[57] Pike Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Angola
Bloomington (Dev)
Jason Taylor[19]
Warsaw
2015 May 30, 2015 Carroll 15–7[58] Pike Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Angola
Arsenal Tech
Derek Longenberger[22]
Carroll
2016 May 30, 2016 Carroll 52–10[59] Pike Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Homestead
Arsenal Tech
JP Anzini
Carroll
No Division 2 Boys Competition in 2017

Girls Championships[edit]

Super League[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2018 May 2018 Warsaw 45–15[60] North Central Moose Rugby Grounds, Elkhart, IN Penn
Pike

2019 May 27, 2019 North Central 50–15[47] Penn Moose Rugby Grounds, Elkhart, IN Pike
Warsaw Area

Division 1[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2000 Noblesville 3–0 Lawrence Central Major Taylor Velodrome
Indianapolis, IN

Nicole Connett (MVP) &
Katelyn Balach (MVB)
Noblesville
2001 Carmel [61] Bloomington

2002 North Central 39–5[61] Carmel

2003 May 24, 2003 Penn 22–15[61] North Central Noblesville
South Bend Clay

2004 May 22, 2004 Penn (2) 17–0[61] Lawrence North Carmel, IN

2005 Warsaw 41–5[61] North Central

2006 North Central (2) [61] Clay Noblesville Chaos

2007 May 28, 2007 North Central (3) [61] Brownsburg Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Noblesville

2008 May 17, 2008 Noblesville (2) 10–5[61] North Central Brownsburg
Carmel

2009 May 25, 2009[40] North Central (4) 30–5[61] South Bend Mercenaries Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN[62]
Noblesville

2010 May 22, 2010 North Central (5) [61] Carmel McCullough's Run Park[41]
Columbus, IN


2011 May 21, 2011[63] North Central (6) 34–0[61] Columbus Richard Wigh Fields[63]
Columbus, IN
Brownsburg
South Bend Mercenaries

2012 May 19, 2012 North Central (7) 10–5[61] South Bend Mercenaries North Central
Indianapolis, IN

Bianca McManus
South Bend Mercenaries
2013 North Central (8) [61] Warsaw

2014 May 31, 2014 North Central (9) 34–24[64] Warsaw Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Penn[20]
Brownsburg
Pre Smiley[19]
North Central
2015 May 30, 2015 North Central (10) 32–17[65] Penn Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Warsaw
Arsenal Tech
Yami Hernandez[22]
North Central
2016 May 30, 2016 Warsaw (2) 34–12[66] Arsenal Tech Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Penn
Pike
Whitney Boren
Warsaw
2017 May 29, 2017 Penn (3) 34–22[67] North Central Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Pike
Warsaw
2018 May 28, 2018 Carroll 68–17 Brownsburg Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Avon
Ft. Wayne
2019 May 27, 2019 Carroll (2) 84–0[47] Fishers Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Ft. Wayne High Schools
Westfield

Varsity Challenge Cup[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2017 May 29, 2017 Avon 43–15[68] Westfield Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkart, IN
Carmel
2018 May 28, 2018 Westfield 66–5[69] Fishers Cyntheanne Park
Fishers, IN
Noblesville
2019 May 27, 2019 Brownsburg 20–12[47] Noblesville Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN

Division 2[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2011 May 22, 2011 Bishop Dwenger [13] North Central (B) Richard Wigh Fields[63]
Columbus, IN

Brie Rahrig
Bishop Dwenger

Fall 7s Championships[edit]

Following the induction of the shortcode of Rugby Union, known as Rugby sevens, into the 2016 Olympic games, Rugby Indiana added a high school fall 7s competition to augment its XVs spring competitions. The inaugural season was 2016 and consists of a 4-week season, with games on Sundays. For the first three weeks, each team/side got a minimum of two matches on each Sunday. The first three weeks scores/results did not count toward the ranking for championship. The 4th week was a championship tournament.

Source: Rugby Indiana
Source: Rugby Indiana

Boys[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2016 October 9, 2016 Carroll 22-12[70] Penn Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Broad Ripple (3rd)
Avon
2017 October 13, 2017
2018 October 14, 2018 Hamilton Southeastern 21–12[71] Penn Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN

Donovan Riley
Hamilton Southeastern

Girls[edit]

Season Date Winner Score Loser Site Semifinalists MVP
2016 October 9, 2016 Penn 25–5[72] Indianapolis #1 Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN
Bishop Dwenger (3rd)
Hamilton #1
Kathleen Gearhart
Penn
2017 October 13, 2017 North Central 24–7[73] Hamilton United Avon
Bishop Dwenger
2018 October 14, 2018 Carroll [74] Moose Rugby Grounds
Elkhart, IN

Mr. & Miss Rugby[edit]

Beginining in 2017, The Indianapolis Star added rugby to its list of Spring Award recipients. Prior to that time, Mr. and Miss Rugby Indiana appears to have been selected by the Indiana Rugby Football Union, coinciding with all-state selections. The data below were sourced from Indiana newspapers searched through Newspapers.com from 1990 through 2019 and represent all information that could be gleaned therefrom.

Mr. Rugby[edit]

Season Winner Nominees
2001 Chad Murphy, Columbus
2002 Ryan Cole
Penn
2003 Ryan Cole (2)
Penn
2004 Chris McNamara (Northern Indiana)
Marian
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017 Jonas Petrakopoulos
Royal Irish
Isaac Good, Brownsburg
William Vakalahi, Penn
2018 Michael Nettleton
Fishers
Andy Gulh
Peyton Wall

Miss Rugby[edit]

Season Winner Nominees
2002 Gina Benbow
Carmel
2003 Andrea Hunt (co-Miss Rugby), North Central
Kate Daley (co-Miss Rugby), Penn
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008 Jessica Bammann
Brownsburg
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017 Kathleen (Kat) Gearhart
Penn
Tori Jones, Penn
Mikayla Tatum, Pike
2018 Meagan Reed
Westfield
Sarah Duenas, Warsaw
Delayney Moyer, International

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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