Spielman Boy Plays Rugby

Noah Spielman probably will play on the defensive line for Ohio State in a few years, but in the meantime he is tearing them up on the high school rugby fields of central Ohio.

Noah is a 16-year-old sophomore at Upper Arlington High School and already is a starter on the rugby team, playing the number eight position. Upper Arlington is a combined team with the three Hilliard schools, which is not an unusual arrangement here in Ohio.

“He’s already scored a couple of tries. He just runs through people,” said assistant coach Mike Coughlin, who happens to be my son. “He never played rugby before. He’s picking it up pretty quick.”

Noah is not abandoning football for rugby. By no means. Noah says he still considers himself a football player. After all, he has a famous name. His father, Chris Spielman, is one of the greatest linebackers ever to come out of Ohio State and Noah is built like his dad at six feet tall and 240 pounds and growing. For Noah, rugby is a good spring conditioner. All rugby players say that, but not all high school football coaches have bought into it. When John Gibbons coached football at St. Edward, for example, he did not allow his players to play rugby until after their senior football season. He demanded that the skill position players run track in the spring if they weren’t playing baseball.

Players, however, love rugby.

“One of the older football players told me to try rugby,” Noah told me. “Our football coach goes along with it. He has no problem with me playing.”

Rugby, which is a spring and summer sport, is not a recognized varsity sport by the Ohio High School Athletic Association yet, but it’s headed that way. In a few years the OHSAA will add an official state tournament to the calendar.

If you want to check out an interesting rugby match, try St. Ed’s vs. St. Ignatius this Friday night at St. Ed’s.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned. I’ll have my reaction to the Browns’ draft next week. As for the running back from Alabama, I’m ambivalent. Hope I’m wrong. I love Brandon Weeden, the 28-year-old quarterback from Oklahoma State. He’ll be the Browns’ starter this coming season.

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