Rugby Arrives at Chaminade

Artwork by Sean Keane ’23

Sean Keane ‘23

The last time that Chaminade High School added a sport to its already robust athletic program, the year was 1997. Now, 25 years later, it is unveiling its newest and 18th-overall Flyers sport: rugby.

Athletic Director Mr. John Honerkamp ’93 explains the motivation behind starting the rugby team, saying, “Many Chaminade alumni play rugby at the collegiate level, and we have received very good feedback from current students, parents, and alumni.”

Chaminade will participate in the most popular style of rugby, known as Rugby Union. In this version of the game there are 15 players on the field; this is different from Rugby Sevens, which has teams of seven that play shorter matches.

The 15 players are split into two groups: forwards and backs. The objective of the forwards is to obtain the ball and protect it. These players are typically bigger, as they are tasked with tackling the opposing team. The backs, meanwhile, are usually the faster and smaller players, since their objective is to score.

Another important aspect of rugby is the scrum. A scrum usually occurs when there is a violation, such as passing the ball forward, and it consists of players using both their teammates and the ground to brace themselves while they push against the other team to try to obtain possession of the ball.

In order to teach student-athletes the intricacies of rugby, Chaminade has enlisted Coach Jerry Mirro to serve as the director of rugby. Mirro’s athletic career took off when he played football for St. Peter’s Academy in Saratoga, New York. He was able to continue playing football as a running back, wide receiver, and safety at Fordham University, and eventually became captain of the team during his junior and senior years. He then tried out for the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers, but his career was cut short due to injury. He turned this setback into something positive, however, as the end of his football career was only the start of his rugby one. He began playing the sport, and eventually became head rugby coach at Stony Brook University.

Ott Field will soon be home to CHS’ 18th athletic team.

Ed Panzella ’90 will also join the new rugby program as its first head coach. Panzella went to Chaminade and began playing rugby after graduating. He plans to start training with the basics, like passing and tackling, and then see how the program develops from there.

The informational meeting for the new rugby program had an impressive turnout. Students from all divisions attended to learn more about the program and demonstrate their interest.

Chaminade Rugby will be joining the Metropolitan NY Boys League, part of RugbyNY, and has games against Xavier High School, Fordham Preparatory and St. Anthony’s High School in the works. Rugby is also becoming an official sport of the Catholic High School Athletic Association since Chaminade and other high schools in the area are developing rugby programs.

Coach Scott Cole ’95, who will serve as assistant coach of the rugby team, stated, “I’m very excited to be a part of this new sport, and I hope to carry over the same enthusiasm and intensity from wrestling to rugby. Everyone involved in this new program wants to make sure it’s successful, and I hope the athletes are ready to train like madmen.”