Jacob Burte (bottom) takes down an opponent during last season’s final game against Milton. (Photo by Ashley Richmond)
Jacob Burte (bottom) takes down an opponent during last season’s final game against Milton. (Photo by Ashley Richmond)

The pig-pile of boys disbands. Mud covers their pad-less bodies. The oval ball is left on the ground and each team goes to their side. A boy picks up the ball, waits a moment, and then tosses it to a teammate behind him. The teammate bolts for the other side. Opponents charge, tackle, and take down the runner…and a few of his teammates with him. A whistle is blown and the process is started all over again.

Rugby, a sport some people consider dangerous, is returning to Andover High in the spring for its fourth year as a club.

Despite its position as an Andover High club, the team is actually run through AYS (Andover Youth Services). Rugby is not considered an Andover High varsity sport because it is not considered an MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) sport and also because there aren’t a lot of schools with rugby teams.

“The high school tends to sponsor sports that are recognized at the state level,” said Mr. McNally, AHS’s assistant athletic director. “I would probably venture to think that if it was an MIAA-recognized sport then it would be considered a varsity sport here too.”

Bill Fahey, the director of AYS and the Andover rugby coach, has been there since the beginning and has helped the team out a lot with fund raising, among other things.

“AYS just came through and helped us out a lot,” said Andrew Dunne, senior and co-captain of the rugby team. “We have to thank them for everything that we’ve done so far.”

Dunne and Calum Tilston, also a senior and co-captain of the rugby team, are already starting to prepare for the season. Though rugby starts practice in the winter, the two are already searching for more people in order to build a team. The team was small before, and the added loss of last year’s seniors has them out and asking people to join.

“A couple of years ago we had a lot of people from all different neighborhoods, all different types of people. Anyone can play,” said Tilston.

Whether you have either played rugby before or have never picked up a ball in your life you will be welcome to the team. Dunne encourages girls to “hop on board” as well if they want to play.

By Ashley Richmond