Rugby club revives the sport for girls


Courtesy of Sophia Karris

Sophia Karris (with ball) plays rough in a match against an opposing team.

After rugby left the school this past year, many students have made it their goal to find a way to bring the sport back. A group led by current Captain Sophia Karris, senior, helped merge the Hinsdale Central Rugby Team with the West Suburban Bulls High School Rugby Club.

When it was announced that the rugby team would be discontinued over the summer, Mr. Nicholas Gebhart, the school’s coach last year, made it his duty to find the girls another team to play with for the next season. The school discontinued the program for both the boys and girls teams due to a lack of funding. 

Last year was the first and only year that the school featured girls rugby as a spring sport, while it was the second year that it was a sport for the boys. Both the boys’ and the girls’ teams had huge success in the past, with a Division I second place finish for the girls and a Division III State Championship for the boys last year.

“For a brand new program that just introduced the sport of rugby to our students at Hinsdale Central, it was very well received,” Coach Gebhart said in a recent press release for the Bulls, titled “Keeping the Rugby Dream Alive.”

Courtesy of Sophia Karris
A West Suburban Bulls High School Rugby Club player shuffles over to avoid a tackle.

Now, the West Suburban Bulls High School Rugby Club will field three different teams, which may be a challenge due to limited field space. But, still, Coach Larry Zeno is determined to allow the students to follow their passions. The team played their first game on Friday, April 6, resulting in a 39-17 win for the girls.

“Collectively we all agreed, these kids’ passion for the sport and us as coaches have a responsibility to grow the sport,” Coach Zeno said. “Logistically we will have some challenges fielding three teams, but if it’s worth doing, it’s worth giving 100 percent.”

Rugby doesn’t only provide Central students with a new athletic outlet; the sport has also been beneficial due to the many scholarship opportunities that it offers. Abby Berberich, a former Central student, is currently playing rugby at the Queens University of Charlotte on an athletic scholarship. In the fall, she will be joined by Ana Snyder, senior. Additionally, Karris has received an athletic scholarship to play at Bowdoin College.

The sport isn’t any different now that we are at the Bulls; it’s the same game, and, for the girl’s team, the same players. It’s impossible to say that we are the same team after having a lot of girls graduate last year, but the girls have been clicking this year at practice,” Karris said. “Because Bulls is a private club team, there are a lot more coaches which is nice because everyone gets the attention they need. It’s also nice to get out and meet other players from other schools, such as DGN and Lyons Township; they’ve all been really welcoming to us.”