Rugby: The second year and a new coach

Photo taken by Nishant Chanda

Article by: Tatsu Matsumoto

Photo taken by: Nishant Chanda

Autumn marks the second season of rugby at St. Mary’s. This year, in addition to Coach Gardonio, who started the rugby team last year, Mr. Young, a new high school science teacher with extensive experience has joined the coaching staff. Together with these two veteran coaches, twenty players have joined together to form this year’s team.

In addition to a new coach, a new training program has also been implemented for 2015. During September, practices have been held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In October, practices were on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In either case when school ended, the players got ready and headed out to the field to practice from 3:45pm until 5:15pm.

Coach Young, started playing Rugby in high school at age seventeen and has now been playing for twenty­five years. He is from Ontario and was a part of the Southwest Ontario under 19 and under 21 teams (U19 and U21). In addition, he has learned many rugby techniques from different places such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Beijing and, Thailand. He also coached rugby at his old school, the International School of Bangkok, for five years. Knowing the sport well, he decided to offer his expertise to the Titans rugby team by helping to bring the athletes into shape and to improve their skills.

Coach Gardonio who is a rugby enthusiast says, “I like to coach rugby, organize practice, teach the players, and observe their progression.” Faced with the question “What is rugby to you?”, Coach Gardonio answered, “For me, it’s a team sport where everyone, no matter the physical condition, age, gender, or intelligence can have a role on the field, …. What I enjoy most about rugby is that, even at the top professional level, all the players show great values of respect and fair play; this is something that tends to disappear in other sports, while in rugby it is still present.”

Mr. Gardonio’s personal goals are to get a proper accreditation from the IRB (International Rugby Board) and to get a coach diploma so that he can be trained and prepared for the day when the club becomes a varsity team. When that happens, practice will be stepped up a notch. Now that this year’s team had a lot of players compared to last year’s, the main goal for this year was to become a more competitive Rugby Union team, consisting of fifteen players and playing legitimate matches. These matches are currently hard to obtain since the rugby team is not yet an accredited team. Still Coach Gardonio is organizing at least one match near the end of this season, which will most likely be against a Japanese club.

David Mataitoga, the captain this year commented, “The team is doing well so far, we’ve made a lot of progress, and we’re actually starting to look like a rugby team. We had a large number of people interested in rugby initially, but the numbers have been dwindling recently. Still, with the people we have, we’re making good progress and taking good strides.

The future of rugby in SMIS is bright. We have a goal that we’ve been working towards, that is to play competitively against another team and pose a sizeable challenge.”

When asked, “Is there any difference from last year?”, he answered, “The team is definitely benefiting from having two coaches rather than one. Mr. Young brings to the team his past experience as a rugby player and has provided fresh ideas to practices that have proved to be effective.” In the end David commented, “ I would like to see rugby become a varsity sport in the long run and compete amongst the other schools in the Kanto league. I’d also like to see us function as a team and work as a unit on the field.” For people who are interested in an intense and fulfilling athletic activity, the rugby team is welcoming players next year so please check it out!