BEAR RIVER HIGH – By Cari Doutre – March 7, 2020
The snow on the grassy fields at Bear River Middle School in Garland has finally melted and with temperatures slightly warmer, the Bear River rugby team hosted their season opener and earned their first win of the season.
On Saturday, March 7, the Bears hosted the Cache Valley rugby team – a team consisting of all high school rugby players in that county. Playing against multi-school teams is a big change for the Bear River rugby team this year.
This year the Bear River rugby team switch conferences from a single school club to a multi-school club sport allowing students from Box Elder High now eligible to join the team.
“We’re a Bear River Valley team now. As much as we’ve always been just a Bear River High School team, we want to make Box Elder High kids feel welcome to come play with us,” said Bear River rugby Coach Perry Crawford.
Box Elder High rugby players are already on the team and making a big difference.
“We’ve picked up a couple of kids from Box Elder that are going to help us out,” Crawford said. He added that they have two more Box Elder players set to join the team.
Having Box Elder High students now eligible to play with them is already starting to pay off for the entire Bear River rugby team.
Ben Stewart, a junior at Box Elder High, dominated on the field during the March 7, game. Stewart had two tries in that game.
For those unfamiliar with rugby, a try is worth five points and is scored by grounding the ball in the in-goal area between the goal line and the dead-ball line. It’s just one of several ways to score points in rugby.
“Ben is experienced and has played rugby before,” Crawford said about having Stewart on the Bear River rugby team. “That’s going to help us.”
But the impact the conference change this year for the Bear River rugby team will have this season has yet to be seen.
“We’re going to be playing teams we’ve never played before,” Crawford said. “We don’t know what we’re up against.”
“Typically, your club teams are going to be a little bit better because they’re drawing from several schools,” he added.
Rugby isn’t a sanction sport with the Utah High School Athletics Association (not yet, at least) which means different rules and requirements for teams and players.
Although rugby is more popular in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France, it originated in England where it’s still a very popular sport. Rugby started gaining popularity in the U.S. around 2011 with over 2,500 teams registered with USA Rugby.
Bear River formed a rugby team in 2014 and since then it’s grown in popularity and participation throughout Box Elder County and the entire state of Utah.
Coach Perry Crawford has been coaching the Bear River rugby team since it started, and along with a staff of assistant coaches, they’ve managed to build a successful and thriving high school rugby program in Box Elder County.
This year seniors Justin Ritter and Braxton Stokes are captains and leaders on the Bear River rugby team.
“We’ve got nine seniors on our team and most of them have played for three years. That really helps,” Crawford said. “All of our seniors are going to help us out.”
The 2020 season started with a Bear River win, 17-5, over Cache Valley.
“I’m happy with this win. That puts us ahead of how we did last year. A really good start for us,” Crawford said.
This year the Bear River team will only host two home games. The next home game will be on Saturday, March 21, starting at 9 a.m.
2020 Bear River rugby team schedule:
March 15: Bear River vs. Brighton (away)
March 21: Bear River vs. South Davis (home)
March 28: Bear River vs. Mountain Valley (away)
April 11: Bear River vs. Layton Christian Academy (away)
April 18: Bear River vs. Mountain Ridge (away)
April 25: Bear River vs. TC Fusion (away)