Rugby Quickly Sweeping St. Paul’s

Junior Cullen Lagasse practices rugby with the team.
Junior Cullen Lagasse goes in for the catch at a recent practice.

Rugby is currently emerging for its first official season at St. Paul’s School, with over 70 new members already on the roster.

“If you enjoy the hitting of football, running of soccer, passing of basketball, and the contact of wrestling, you’re gonna love rugby,” noted Donald Hart, M.D., Head Coach of the St. Paul’s rugby team.

The rugby team recently operated a recruitment table during the school’s “Get Involved Day,” where they signed up 25 players for the fall season, 45 for winter season, and 70 for the spring season. The team continues to welcome new recruits, even those who did not sign up on Get Involved Day. Each season will be four months long.

Many students have heard rugby can be a rough sport and may be afraid to try it for fear of injury. However, according to Hart, “rate of injury in rugby is much lower than football, or any other sport; football players are taught to tackle with their head, where rugby players are taught to tackle with their body.”

In fact, according to, the most dangerous high school sports in terms of injuries are cheerleading and men’s football.

As far as safety equipment, players are only allowed to wear a mouthguard and a cap over their ears to prevent cauliflower ear, which is when the external part of the ear gets blood clots. Players cannot hit above the shoulders, spear, or pick a player up and drive him into the ground.

Members of the rugby coaching staff take a quick pose during a recent practice. (L-R) Donald Hart, Al Freyder, Brad Marchese, and Thomas Lahey.

“We’ve got a great coaching staff: Brad Marchese, Thomas Lahey, Al Freyder, Austin Ashcraft, and me,” said Hart, noting that Marchese acts as the faculty moderator.

The coaching staff brings a variety of experience to the team. Lahey has years of experience at both the college and club level, and Freyder and Hart both have years of international experience in the sport.

The team has begun practicing and will begin to compete towards the end of the winter season against teams in Mississippi and Florida, as well as eight local teams including the Audubon Rugby Club, Brother Martin High School, and Archbishop Shaw, among others.

Although the team is already practicing, recruitment is still open. Interested players should contact Marchese at

The fall season rugby team practices diligently to prepare for upcoming games.
The fall season rugby team practices diligently to prepare for upcoming games.
[photo credit: Chris Rogers]


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