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The Brotherhood of Brighton’s Rugby Club

Apr 07, 2016 11:48AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Sarah Almond | sarah@mycityjournals.com

Cottonwood - Holladay - The boys of Brighton Rugby Club aren’t just a team; they are a brotherhood. And though this is only the group’s second year as an established team, both their roster and their skills have experienced exponential growth in the 2016 season. 

“Last year we only had about 15 guys on the team,” Team Manager Teresa Petty said. “This year we have around 45. We’ve really promoted the program through the school and through Facebook, but a lot of it was by word of mouth. Last year we were single school, which created a difficulty for us because, as a new program and being single school, we could only have kids that went to Brighton. So this year we decided to go multi-school and I contacted the athletic directors of other high schools to let them know we had this available.”

Today, the team has players from all over the Salt Lake Valley. Brighton players, along with kids from high schools such as Hillcrest, Juan Diego, Cottonwood, Corner Canyon and Taylorsville all come together to make up the Brighton Rugby Club. 

On paper, schools like Brighton, Cottonwood and Taylorsville tend to have rival athletic programs. With rugby, however, it’s a different ball game. 

“Rugby is different because it’s not at all political,” Petty said. “The camaraderie is totally different — it’s a total brotherhood. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a senior, or what school you’re from.” 

Sophomore Nathan Hilton, a first-time rugby player, elaborated. 

“The team dynamic is really awesome. It’s a lot different than football,” he said. “The atmosphere is totally different. Like, my teammates want me to get better and help me get better. Plus, I actually get to touch the ball in rugby.” 

Petty credits the team’s fraternity to fact that the boys enjoy playing rugby together and being friends with one another. The players train together, travel to tournaments as a group and have social events such as team dinners, rugby film viewings, charity events, fundraising and more.

“We’re always looking for ways that the team can get involved in the community,” Vea Ofa, head coach for the Bengals, said. “One of our goals is to give back to the community. At the beginning of the season we talk about work ethic and about values. We teach them [the players] that rugby isn’t just about smashing each other — it’s about values on and off the field.” 

Perhaps the team’s strong camaraderie and support for one another is what has contributed both to the group’s rise in numbers and their progress as individual players. 

“Our backline is very, very skillful this year,” Ofa said. “Even though our frontline is a little weak, there is a lot of strong, individual skills in our backline. And I see improvements every day. You know, I had some kids come in and they didn’t even know how to hold a rugby ball, but we work on it on a daily basis and you can watch them get better.” 

The rugby season is short, lasting from the beginning of March through the end of April, with about eight games begin played each season. However, the Brighton players have been training for the 2016 season since mid-December, putting in eight to ten hours of practice each week.  

“We really want to make it to the state championship,” Ezias Bigelow, senior captain for the Bengals, said. “But to get there we still have to put in a lot of hard work — a lot of hard work. We need to have dedication from the boys and work our hardest at every practice.”

With the official season just barely underway, the Bengals already have some game time experience under their belt. The team traveled to St. George on Feb. 5 for the Icebreaker Tournament and again to Blackfoot, Idaho, for a tournament on Feb. 27. Brighton reigned victorious, winning every match they played. 

The team plays their final home game on April 16 at 1 p.m. The game will be held at the Brighton High School football field against the West Valley Warriors. 

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