I’ve got a serious interest in Friday’s high school state championship rugby games down in Columbus.
In high school rugby, there are two state championship games — Division I between St. Edward and Cincinnati Moeller at 8 p.m. and Division II between Columbus Tri Village and Cincinnati Indian Springs at 6 p.m. Both games will be played on the Columbus Mifflin High School football stadium. According to my directions, it must be somewhere on the east side of Columbus.
The divisions in rugby are not based on school size, which is the case in all other high school sports, as everybody knows. In rugby, divisions are based on the ability of the teams. Experienced teams are in Division I, newer teams are in Division II. St. Ed’s has been the kingpin of high school rugby in the Cleveland area for more than a decade. Two of my sons learned the game there and they’re still playing and coaching ten years later. My son, Mike Coughlin, coaches the Columbus team in the Division II championship game. He played at St. Ed’s and Miami of Ohio and now lives in Hilliard.
High school rugby was introduced here in Ohio about 15 years ago and is growing rapidly. Each year more schools add it to their athletic curricula, but it is not recognised by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. That will come. For the time being, it governs itself. It is not rigidly organized. Many teams in Division II, for example, comprise players from several schools, which is the case with the two finalists in Division II.
In the Division II championship game, Tri Village is comprised mostly of kids from the western suburbs of Columbus. Most are from Upper Arlington but kids from the three Hilliard high schools — Davidson, Darby and Olentangy — are included. An Upper Arlington sophomore named Noah Spielman, powerful son of former pro football star Chris Spielman, is a big part of the team.
Indian Springs is a northern Cincinnati team that includes kids from Mason, Lakota and Princeton, all huge public high schools, as well as two small private schools, Cincinnati Christian and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.
So there you have it, probably more than you wanted to know about high school rugby. Thanks for reading this far. If you want an explanation of the rules, find somebody else.
If you drive down to see the games, here’s the address of Mifflin High School to punch into your navigation device:
3245 Oak Spring Street