CT Rugby 2023 Season Recap

Connecticut Rugby is the best it's ever been!

This season we had, without a doubt, the greatest State Championships ever. The games were truly one to remember thanks to the sheer amount of enthusiasm and participation from coaches, players, and fans alike. Anyone who has gone to any of the games this year will say the same – the experience was unparalleled. The atmosphere at all of the games this year can best be described as powerful, and full of overwhelmingly proud, positive, and uplifting emotions. I think it brought us all closer together as one rugby community. This feeling seemed to only grow stronger as the season progressed, culminating with the two terrific State Championship matches. I attribute the success of these State Championships to the entire season’s successes, each building off of the other, starting all the way back from the earliest games of the season. I’d like to list these successes in more detail:

Starting off with Girls Rugby in Connecticut, we’ve had yet another outstanding season thanks to League Director Erin Martschenko and all of the excellent coaches and players in the Girls Division. Throughout the season, we have seen exceptionally high-caliber play between the teams, with equally as exceptional camaraderie off the field. This year’s D1 Girl’s Championships were hosted at Ridgefield High School, and on an early Saturday morning, Aspetuck took home the D1 Girls State Championship title against Greenwich. The team was headed by coaches John O’Neill and Carolyn Roach . A few days before the D1 Championships were the D2 Championships, in which Fairfield Club beat the Shoreline Spartans for their D2 State Championship title.

This year, Connecticut sent two teams to the National High School Championships: Greenwich in the Single-School Division and Aspetuck in the Tier II Division. The multi-day tournament was held at the Moose Rugby Grounds in Elkhart, Indiana. Both teams played with great heart over the days-long tournament, battling it out with unwavering determination against some of the top teams in the country. Both teams went 2-1, with Aspetuck finishing in 3rd place in the Tier II Division, and Greenwich in 5th in the Single-School Division.

Back at home, the Boys Championships were boiling to a start. The State Championships, hosted by Staples High School with help from Head Coach Neil Siedeman and League Director Gennaro Gelsi, started bright and early with a Froshmore Jamboree in a round robin format, ending with quite a climactic game between Trumbull and Greenwich. It was a last-minute, down to the wire, action packed game, and as the clock ran down, the Trumbull Froshmore team scored a triumphant try to seal the deal in an epic buzzer beater against Greenwich. Later that day, the Division 2 Championship game began under the heat of the afternoon sun. Midstate took home the dub after an incredibly close game, narrowly beating Fairfield Club 18-12.

As 5 o’clock rolled around, the Staples stands filled completely to the brim with fans from all over the state to watch the championship game. It was loud, it was hot, and there was a certain palpable excitement in the air which was felt by everyone. The game started off with both teams playing with such passion that it had you at the edge of your seat. Greenwich gained an early lead, which left Fairfield Prep trailing in points for the rest of the game up until the final minutes. And as the clock ticked down, Fairfield Prep needed one more try to take the lead, and they did so with one final push into the try zone with just seconds left to seal the deal! With that, Fairfield Prep, led by Head Coach Kevin Kery and his team, claimed the Connecticut D1 Boys State Championship Title for Fairfield Prep for the first time ever in a “hold your breath” 33-28 win over Greenwich. 

With the buzz of State Championships and celebration still in the air, the best players from every team in the Boys and Girls top divisions came together in a phenomenal show of sportsmanship to win the Quad State All-Star Tournament! On the boys side, players were selected by Coach Mike “Lurch” Leczowski, who has had several years of experience coaching select-side teams. The Girl’s All-Star Tournament was coached by John O’Neill, an equally experienced coach in the Girls Division. Both teams triumphantly brought home the Championship Trophy after squarely beating All-Star teams from NY, NJ, and PA. It is obvious that Connecticut Rugby plays at one of the highest calibers at the High School level, thanks to all of our dedicated coaches, development programs, parents, and of course, the skill and talent of our players.

As President of Connecticut Rugby, it has been my pleasure to work alongside all of you throughout this successful season. I would also like to thank Vice President Matt Giuliano, Treasurer Tim Knox, and Secretary Mark Schnitzler for being such a diligent team of professionals in handling any and all things behind the scenes which allows for this operation to run so smoothly. On a final note: The future is bright for Connecticut Rugby! As we look forward to the 2024 season, let us remember the positives of this year’s enthusiasm and spirit, and let’s carry them forwards so that we can continue to make Rugby CT the best it’s ever been!