Greenwich High School’s 31-22 defeat of Xavier was no fluke, as the Connecticut HS team is on the upswing this season.
Head Coach Joe Kelly wishes now that word of the new National Invitational format had reached him at the right moment, because he thinks his team would do well.
“We have athletes and they’re coming together and playing well together,” said Kelly, who took over the Greenwich program just a couple of years ago. “We found we were crushing teams, even other top teams in the state. We had to look for games like McQuaid Jesuit and Xavier to test ourselves.”
No joke – Greenwich won their state semifinal match 107-0.
“We would love to play Gonzaga, or Herriman, or any of those teams,” he said.
Greenwich has been a top single-school program for over 20 years, despite the team being a public school. This is a great rarity in rugby circles, and Kelly credits it all to Steve Lapham, who coached the program for 20 years.
“They like us in the school,” said Kelly. “And that’s up to what Steve built here. We had a full stadium for the Xavier game. We had media attention. Kind of too bad it was our last home game, because people were able to see what we can produce.”
The rugby tradition has stuck at Greenwich. Football coaches understand that the benefits they get out of their players playing rugby outweigh any injury risk.
“Rugby’s a popular sport among the football players, and everyone has learned that playing without a helmet doesn’t mean you’re going to get hurt more often,” said Kelly.
And there are some things rugby brings to the table.
“What was great about that Xavier match was the spirit in which it was played,” said Kelly. “Xavier is a great program and they play the game with good sportsmanship, and I’m glad we’re able to show that.”