Rugby team takes on Ireland competition

The boys go to Ireland for a chance to try their skills out overseas

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Rugby team takes on Ireland competition

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New Trier’s rugby team traveled overseas to take on some of Ireland’s finest teams for a once in a lifetime spring break opportunity.
Thirty-three of the players traveled to Ireland with the intention of upping their playing skills and they did so by playing teams native to where the sport began. They went up against players from Dublin, Galway, and Limerick over the course of the trip.
“Being able to experience that community was a life altering experience. Rugby is a game we all cherish but participating in the “real” rugby culture showed us how our sport is bigger than individual teams and truly the world’s largest fraternity. We are extremely grateful for that opportunity,” said senior and three-year team vet Beau Yaccino.
“It wasn’t really a tournament, more just games to get better at rugby and there’s no better way to do that than by playing against Irish teams,” said senior Robbie Werd.
Werd joined the team as a junior and has been thriving since.
New Trier lost the three games played against Dublin, Galway, and Limerick, but senior Finn Mabie said, “they were all very close, only a one or two try difference.”
Though they did not win against the Irishmen, they still put up a good fight with outstanding plays by senior Terry Zapf.
“I would say Terry Zapf made the most outstanding plays because he had some very long runs in almost every game and the Ireland kids just couldn’t figure out a way to bring him down to the ground, they were scared to tackle him,”said Mabie.
Senior captain Michael Endre was also recognized by fellow teammate Yaccino.
“Our most outstanding player of the tour was Michael Endre, Big Mike is incredibly fast and has the ability to change the game whenever he likes,” he said.
The team began preparing for the trip by practicing during the two months prior and attending team meetings at various players’ homes. Even with their preparation, the team couldn’t have foreseen the level at which their opponents played.
“They were not faster or bigger than us but knew how to play the game at a higher level. We had to switch our playing style to match the speed they play the game at,” Yaccino explained.
“I think the hardest challenge of the tournament was just adapting to the new land, playing games after barely sleeping and being very jet lagged as well as adjusting our level of play to be on par with theirs,” said Mabie.
Besides playing on the field, the team also had the chance to explore all Ireland has to offer. Senior Terry Zapf recalled the times they got to spend off the field, “We went to two castles which were really cool and we saw lots of animals.”
“The highlights of the trip was taking a ferry to an Island off the coast of Ireland and biking around for a couple hours. Also the Cliffs of Moher were really cool,” said senior David Kugler.
After returning, the team went up against three time reigning state champions, Neuqua Valley. New Trier fell short, but the team is still hopeful for a successful season.
“I believe we have the strongest varsity team in the last four years and we are expecting a successful season,” said Yaccino.
Kugler noted his eagerness for the season’s progression by saying, “this is my first year so I’m looking forward to playing more rugby and seeing how the teams around here compare to the ones in Ireland.”
“I’m looking forward to the whole team progressing and being able to win some games,” said Zapf.
Win or loss, the trip was still a success.
“Everyone was really nice over there and it was a once in a lifetime trip and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to go,” said Werd.