Raleigh Rattlesnakes Youth Rugby Takes a Leap Forward

To all Raleigh Rugby Sisters and Brethren, Members and Aficionados,

On Saturday March 19th, 2011, just a week out from winning the Wallabies Division at the Charlotte Rugby Festival 2011, the Raleigh Rattlesnakes U19 Rugby Club traveled to Chapel Hill, NC to take on the 5 time North Carolina State Champions, the Chapel Hill Highlanders.

By the way, we found out a few things about the Rattlesnakes during the Charlotte Festival. We have improved immensely and as well, the state of rugby in North Carolina is very good. Teams visiting from outside of our North Carolina Youth Rugby Union found that out.

Prior to this match, the Rattlesnakes had never bested the Highlanders on the scoreboard. Not many teams have. In fact, just to keep a match score within 3 tries of the Highlanders was considered a major accomplishment in the early days of the Rattlesnakes and for most teams in the area.

The Chapel Hill Highlanders have dominated North Carolina Youth Rugby and they have a super organization of parents, coaches and administrators. They have played competitively at the national level with the likes of the Highland Rugby Club and have held their own well finishing 7th in the nation a couple of years ago. As many of you know, Highland is the famous U19 Rugby Club where a movie was made recently called “Forever Strong” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0840322/. They have somewhere in the neighborhood of 19 national championships in the last 23 years or so.

The result of our match with the Highlanders was a 31-0 score victory for Raleigh U19 Rugby. Both teams were winners in this bout with regards to the character and class that each side exhibited.
I was personally very proud of our team . Our players, our coaches and our organization as a whole should be very proud.

This match in my opinion, was a turning point not just for the Raleigh Rattlesnakes, but for the NCYRU. It brings the evident parity to the league and provides a healthy outlook for youth rugby in North Carolina moving forward.

We have had a great parent’s organization this year which is a fundamental building block and foundation for successful youth rugby teams in any league.

The primary building block we have had for the last three years has been a consistency with regards to coaches, coaching and coaching philosophy.

Thanks to Brent Vaughn, John Kellerman, Kent “Lumpy” Jeffries and last but certainly not least, Frank Milchuck for leading the way.

Everyone’s coaching efforts has contributed with a method and style of rugby play guided and spearheaded by Frank.

Thank you Coach Milchuck for putting in all the hours, expense and the effort!

Having said that, It is always a good thing, that we have Pete Smith, Rick McBride and Mike Lee standing close by to lend a hand if we need it.

Back to the match, let me just say without going overboard, that in Saturday’s match, the Rattlesnakes showcased their talents. The rucks were outstanding, almost unbelievable The scrums were excellent. The backline play was awesome (thank you backs coaches Brent Vaughn and John Kellerman). That is really what it takes to best a Highlander’s Rugby Club. The result, a 31-0 victory.

Please note that match play was halted just 10 minutes into the second half. Both the Highlander’s coach, Robert Joseph and Frank decided that due to time constraints where the match was delayed that we would end the match. The match was halted because two of our Rattlesnakes players collided with each other while attempting to tackle a Highlander. It was determined that they be taken off the pitch and sent to UNC Hospital via ambulance to be checked out for possible concussions. We have a very happy ending in that both young men checked out very good and left the hospital that afternoon for home. A class act on both sides of the ball that day.

Since the Rattlesnakes began, our players past and present have demonstrated a “can do” never give up attitude just like what we have all witnessed with our Men’s and Women’s programs.
Regardless of the final score, what we are striving for is to demonstrate and teach these young men to honor the game of rugby as well as their teammates, friends, family and opponents on and off the field of play. That means conducting themselves in an honorable manner on and away from the pitch, in their classrooms and in their daily lives.
These are life lessons that they will carry with them throughout life and hopefully, they will give back to the sport of rugby.

We are working hard to build our ranks with new youth rugby programs that reach out to boys and girls with U14 (tackle), U12 and U10 Touch Rugby programs. We are urging all Raleigh Rugby members to get involved with our youth program(s). We need additional coaches, administrators, organizers, etc. Let’s get kids playing rugby at the earlier ages and let’s build our future.

It is all good for the Raleigh Rugby Football Club.

Thanks for being here, Raleigh Rugby.

Tommy Myatt
Raleigh Rattlesnakes Youth Rugby

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