Darien’s rugby team is resilient and growing in its early days.
“I think we lost about a dozen last year, however, it was 23 the prior year,” said coach John McCarthy. “It seems we get just about every player returning who has played before and we already have a few freshmen on board which will help with continuity.”
There are 35 on the roster, with 40 being the ideal aim.
“We always endeavor to make sure no player is left standing on the sideline with no game time,” McCarthy said. “So 40 players means we can comfortably run both A and B sides.”
Captain is Jimmy Weinstock. Alex Gunn is captain of the forwards (football linemen equivalents).
“Jeff Gebauer and Chris Brophy are our co-Presidents of the DHS Rugby varsity team,” McCarthy said.
Last year Darien was 3-3 in the League and did not make the state playoffs.
“The strengths which make rugby unique is the ability to play for each other and bond as a team,” said McCarthy. “Camaraderie plays a huge part in any rugby club and we promote this concept completely.
“We also make sure that the ‘brotherhood’ which is rugby, is encouraged both off and on the playing field; seniors mix with freshmen and help to educate them regarding the game.”
Just getting on its feet as a varsity sport, Darien is keen to keep the interest up.
“We are also huge exponents of making the whole rugby experience fun and enjoyable as there’s no real room for players who don’t want to be out there or are being pushed to play,” said McCarthy. “However, we also maintain strict standards of discipline as it’s a tough game with no scope for hot-headedness.”
They’re polite, even amidst the pummeling.
“As an example, even swearing is outlawed,” McCarthy added. “Not because we haven’t heard it before, but it adds to the sense of discipline and team ethos.”
Fitness levels have always been an early season concern.
“It takes a while to get the winter video-games nonsense out of their systems,” McCarthy said. “We also rely on getting the basic skills and techniques correct early-on before we move to the more complex aspects of the game.
“In the past, this has led to a relatively slow start but we always seem to make excellent progress as the season unfolds.”