Jan. 14th – High School Teams Play First Official Matches

On Saturday, Jan. 14th, 2012, on the rugby pitch on the corner of Harrison and Marconi in City Park the high school rugby sides from Lake Area New Tech High School and the U-!9 Mississippi Rugby side clashed for both sides first ever official rugby match. Lake Area came out on top of the scoring with a 20-17 win, but both sides showed considerable rugby skills in their first outing.

Robert Markel, who has coached Jesuit High School since its first match a little over a decade ago, was on the sideline. He reflected on the first Deep South region high school rugby match ever. That match was between Jesuit and Brother Martin which was coached by Gary Giepert. The match was played on the “Rugby Field” in City Park. The field was developed with such drastically sloping sides that it was soon determined to be unusable. Markel recalled the match appeared like 30 kids chasing after the ball.

 It was obvious that both Lake Area and Mississippi Rugby had been well coached in the short time they had to prepare for their first match.

Lake Area coaches were Chance Doyle and Adam Ducoing. Both Doyle and Ducoing began their rugby career playing high school rugby in New Orleans, Doyle for Jesuit and Ducoing for Brother Martin. Ducoing went on to play for LSU. Doyle Both are currently playing members of the New Orleans RFC.

Mississippi Rugby’s coaches were Andy Cameron and Keith Bussolati. Cameron played for several seasons (Mobile) Battleship RFC and Bussolati played for the Army and University of Louisiville before moving back to his hometown of Biloxi.

Mississippi Rugby had their initial registration and practice on November 14th. Twenty five boys showed up. The initial motivation and energy to form the team came from Lori Sutherland. Lori had recently moved to south Mississippi from Utah. Utah is arguably the greatest state in the country for youth rugby. Her son had been playing for Davis County which regularly played the legendary youth rugby powerhouse Highland Rugby. On May 21st, 2011, in the national championship final Highland defeated Utah United by a score of 38-24 to capture their 20th national championship since 1980. On May 14th, 2011, a week before the national championships Davis County lost to Highland by a score of 20-17.

Below is an exchange of emails between Lori and local rugby player and coach Trip McCormick expressing the spirit which has supported this burst of youth rugby energy in the area this season.

Following this exchange of emails is a copy on an article about Lake Area New Tech High School that appeared in the Times Picayune and was posted on NOLA.com  http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2012/01/new_orleans_public_school_team.html

Trip –

 Thank YOU!!!  That is why we love the RUGBY FAMILY — nothing but love & support.

 Hope to see you at a couple of games.

Great news!  We are set for our home games for South Mississippi rugby.  I was hoping the coaches of the 3 teams we are playing can e-mail me directly about times etc.  We can use the field here from 12:30 PM until 10:00 PM for those 2 Saturday games and Friday 7:00 PM til the lights go off at 10:00 PM.

 Also, a question about temporary goal posts?!  We decided to use PVC but wanted to get some feedback from ya’ll about the size or lets say minimum size requirement.  Talked to Jim Hirsh yesterday and he seems to think we can get away with no pads on the PVC as well…… true or false?!  Otherwise when I meet with Dick’s Sporting Goods for our sponsorship I will submit those as a request.

 Thanks again!!

 Lori Sutherland

MS Rugby Club

 Check out our website and the WLOX-TV piece that was done on Wednesday.  Pretty cool! 


Date: Friday, December 9, 2011, 9:41 AM

Just a quick thought from a former high school coach who has been forced into a (hopefully) temporary hiatus:

As your teams prepare to compete for the 10th Louisiana High School State Championship, I am as excited as I have been for Louisiana (and Deep South!) high school rugby since that first season of 2001-02. It’s great to see so many people taking the initiative and getting programs going where there’s a kernel of interest. 

To all the coaches/administrators of the new teams, especially, congratulations and thanks! I know it seems a little early for congratulations, but the most important step is simply deciding to get it going, and you’ve done that! To all the teams, good luck this season. I’m looking forward to the best season of Deep South high school rugby yet! 


Trip McCormick



First New Orleans public school team tackles rugby
Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012

As the high school rugby season prepares to kick off in mid-January, the New Orleans area has added its first public school rugby team: Lake Area New Tech Early College High School. The Catholic boys schools that already have teams have welcomed the addition with scrimmages and advice.

Lake Area New Tech scrimmaged against one of rugby’s local powerhouses, Brother Martin, at Pratt Park in December. The Lake Area New Tech Leopards held their own in a tighter game than the 19-5 score would indicate.

“After Christmas break you won’t be able to stop us,” said Troy Mack Jr., a senior who plays inside center for Lake Area New Tech.

Lake Area New Tech officials decided to join the Deep South Rugby league in September when senior Anthony Bertrand approached school counselor John Leitz with the idea of forming a team.

“We couldn’t have a football team because we were a first-year high school, and I just decided that we should play something that’s inexpensive, fun, and something new and different,” Bertrand said.

Although they’d never played rugby before, Bertrand and his friends were eager to put a team together.

Leitz called on the New Orleans rugby community for assistance in getting the Lake Area New Tech team started.

“The biggest thing I needed was some good experience in rugby and knowledge. Jesuit, Brother Martin and Audubon coaches and New Orleans Rugby have been huge in helping us get started and moving this forward,” Leitz said.

The Deep South Rugby League consists of 10 teams across Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

Jerry Malina, head coach of the New Orleans Men’s Rugby team and assistant coach for Brother Martin, was one of the coaches who helped develop the high school rugby program 10 years ago.

“We have been stuck on six (teams) for a long time. That’s Shaw, Jesuit, Brother Martin, Rummel, Episcopal School of Acadiana and a team from Niceville, Fla.,” Malina said. “It is really the New Orleans Rugby league, but we have incorporated teams that have nobody else to play.”

New Orleans Rugby put the word out in the rugby community that Lake Area New Tech was putting together a team.

Adam Ducoing and Chance King Doyle signed up for the head coaching positions and are now tackling the challenges of the first-year team.

“It’s got its challenges because none of them have ever played and most of them hadn’t even actually seen the game before,  but they’ve really taken to defense,” Ducoing said.

Troy said the first order of business is for the team to get rid of its football mentality. Players are using material they have received from their coaches and from their own research.

“We’ve watched videos with the coaches, we read books and we print a lot of stuff up off the Internet,” Bertrand said.

“The rules are where they’re really struggling, but we have been giving them handouts on positions and how to hold your channels, and the more scrimmages we play the better we are going to get before the season,” Leitz said.

The Leopards have faced other start-up challenges. Originally practicing on a 20-yard vacant lot next to the school, the team now has Pratt Park as its practice field.

The team has overcome financial hurdles, and after the scrimmage with Brother Martin, the team won’t have any more issues with having enough players to make up a 22-player squad.

“After this scrimmage tonight, I’ve had about six other guys come up and ask what they need to do to play ­– we are seeing that interest growing,” Leitz said.

It’s a sport that’s easy to love, the players said. Everyone gets a chance to be involved, and the game is fast and aggressive.

“It is fast-paced, no stopping ­– and I like the fact that we can strip the ball whenever we want as long as we are standing up,” Bertrand said.

The Leopards are determined and focused on becoming one of the league’s powerhouses.

“We practice more than anyone, we practice four days a week ­– we have been working hard to catch up,” Leitz said. “We have to get into the top four to get into the state playoffs and there is no doubt in my mind that we will get there.”

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