By Tia Lynn Ivey
Morgan County High School’s new Rugby Club played the first home game last Saturday against teams from Savannah and Brunswick. After playing several away tournaments, the Rugby Club showed their stuff right on their home turf. Clear skies reigned over head as the Morgan County rugby players huddled together to take control of the ball. The MCHS Rugby team prevailed over Savannah 45 to 0. In their second game against Brunswick the MCHS rugby teams was narrowly defeated 19 to 21. “We played a round-robin tournament with the two other teams that are part of the Eastern Region of Rugby Georgia’s High School 7s Spring Season, said MCHS French Teacher and, now, Rugby Coach Nate Reincheld. “We played Savannah Shamrocks (Youth) and Brunswick High Rugby Club. We should be off to the State Final Tournament at Life University Marietta on May 11…The prospect of the longevity of the team for next year and the year beyond looks great as we have a good variety of ages and more young men, and also young women, who are keen to play rugby! Next year may begin about a girls 7s Rugby Team.”
The Rugby Club was formed this past February, with a few MCHS boys pushing for the team’s creation.
“Some of the boys in one of my French classes asked me if I thought we could possibly start a team,” Reincheld told the Morgan County Citizen earlier this year. “I told them that if they took ownership, raised the funds, and recruited people, then I would come behind them and coach. Dr. Miki Edwards and Mr. Doug Connelly have been fantastic supporters of the vision that these boys have had to bring rugby to MCHS.”
The Rugby Club is considered a club and not an official sports team for the high school, raising all of its funds autonomously, separate from the school district with only accountability through MCHS. Zaxby’s LLC National Headquarters in Athens donated $1,000 to the club which covered the cost of the players’ uniforms.
Driven by their passion and true enjoyment of the sport, the club has recruited and attracted more students since its start, and is now a team of 14.
The Rugby Club recently held a spirit night fundraiser at Amici’s Italian Cafe in downtown Madison.
“The values and spirit of the game are great for young people as it teaches you to work in unity to achieve a common goal, support each other all the time, being technically correct in how you play the game, and play in a dignified way of sportsmanship with the ‘Spirit of the Game’,” said Reincheld.
As previously reported in the Morgan County Citizen, Coach Reincheld is a World Rugby Certified Level 1 Coach, a USA Rugby Certified Level 200 coach completing his USA Rugby Level 300 certification requirements. Prior to his transfer to MCHS, Reincheld coached rugby for 10 seasons at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya – “a powerhouse for rugby” – where he led the varsity team to two league finals towards the end of his tenure.
“I look forward to seeing young people come together in a new way, challenge themselves, and develop themselves in ways they never expected,” said Reincheld. “This is groundbreaking stuff that was envisioned by students, not me! It’s awesome to be a part of something that the students want and to see the joy in their eyes when they had their first taste of the sport. As the boys have said on numerous occasions, ‘We want to establish a new Morgan County tradition: new building, new sport.’”