Park City High puts team on the pitch
"A great meeting of the minds" might not be the first thing people think about when talking about the sport of rugby. But in case of the newly-formed Park City High School team, it was certainly true.
Earlier this year, Utah Rugby Football Union president Alan Short approached Park City High School administrators looking to start a high school rugby team. At the same time, Park City sophomore Nathan Innis and a group of his friends were talking about trying to form a high school club. When Innis approached Park City Recreation coordinator Karen Yocum about the idea, the two parties were finally matched up and a new rugby club was born.
"The two groups met and the rest is history," Short said.
Short said many of the kids were either looking for a physical sport or just wanted to be part of a team and were eager to sign up for the new program.
"A lot of kids saw there was an opportunity to play a sport like football," Short said.
The Park City High School Rugby Club has been playing together for about two months and competing since late April. Because the team is all sophomores and most are brand new to the sport, Short made sure they played other teams of a similar talent level. Utah boasts one of the best prep rugby squads in the country in Highland High School, and Park City wasn’t quite ready for that kind of competition. Instead, they played Highland’s freshman and sophomore team and other underclassmen squads in the state. Most of those games involved 15 players on a side, but Short did allow Park City to play 7s-style (7 vs. 7) rugby, which requires less experience and aggressiveness.
Park City wasn’t the only new team this year. St. George, Cache Valley and the Provo Stallions also formed high school teams to create a record 14-team high school league in Utah.
"We really expanded through the whole state," Short said.
The season is now over for everyone except Highland and a team from Alpine, the United, who will both compete in the high school national championships this weekend.
For Short, who is very involved in the Park City men’s rugby team and helps to bring rugby tournaments to Summit County each summer, forming a high school club was very important to the growth of the sport in the area. In fact, he plans to continue the momentum through the summer by competing in a new high school summer 7’s league. Right now, the Park City team will play games locally at Quinn’s Junction or City Park on June 21 and 28 and on other weekends at different locales throughout the state.
"Its all because of so many teams and interest," Short said.
For more information on the high school summer league, visit http://www.utahrfu.org.
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Park City on Tuesday hosted an open house designed to provide information about a wide range of municipal projects and programs, but the event took on greater meaning with the gathering becoming among the largest City Hall-organized events held in person in the more than a year.