Edina Boys’ Rugby Tackles the Competition

Theo Teske, staff writer

In the United States, the most popular sport involving tackling and an oblong ball is football. However, across much of the rest of the world, the more popular sport matching that description is rugby. Although little known in America, rugby has now gained a foothold here as well. In fact, Edina High School has its own rugby team.

While similar to football in some superficial ways, rugby differs from football in many key aspects. Rugby is more free-flowing as the field doesn’t reset after every play, and players don’t wear pads or helmets. Furthermore, in rugby, forward passes are illegal, and players must either kick the ball or run it in order to move it downfield. Terminology also differs, with tries being similar to touchdowns and the scrum-half being similar to the defensive or offensive line.

If you ask JV player and EHS sophomore Diego Roman, rugby should be more popular in the US than it is now. “I think people should play it because it’s different from every other sport,” he said. “It’s a European sport, so it just doesn’t catch on in the US, like how soccer is less popular than football.” Roman plays the position of hooker, meaning he gains control of the ball in the scrum and rolls it out, much like a center in football.

EHS senior and Varsity player Mike Mazzara echoes Roman’s sentiment. “It’s really fun. Very high-paced, very physical,” Mazzara said. He also plays as a hooker and was interviewed the day after getting a concussion at practice.

Mazzara believes that Edina is in a unique position this year to have success. “Everyone is really good on the team, so it’s easy to break through the lines and score tries. When you’ve got big guys like Rami [Sabri] and Ben Moss and Parker Halling supporting you in rucks and good kickers like [Nick] Bloom, it’s easy to get under the ball, catch it and break through the line,” Mazarra said.

Both Roman and Mazzara believe Edina can win the state tournament. “Edina is the best team in the state, won six in a row,” Roman said. “We’re going to win state, without a doubt,” Mazzara agreed.