Florida High School Launches Nation’s First Girls’ Varsity Rugby Program

Florida High School Launches Nation’s First Girls’ Varsity Rugby Program

BOULDER, Colo. — USA Rugby is proud to announce the formation of the first ever girls’ high school varsity rugby team in the United States. The pioneer program is set to begin in October at Sebastian River High School in Sebastian, Fla.

In close cooperation with USA Rugby’s Emerging Sports department, Sebastian River’s groundbreaking addition of girls’ rugby now offers the first full contact sport opportunity for girls at the interscholastic level in the U.S.

“The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) applauds Sebastian River High School for its efforts to provide yet another opportunity for girls to participate in high school sports by offering the sport of rugby,” said Robert F. Kanaby, Executive Director of the NFHS, the national leadership organization for high school athletic and fine arts activities based in Indianapolis.

Sebastian River’s girls’ varsity rugby program joins nearly 150 girls’ club programs in the U.S. at the high school-age level. The team will be coached by R. Allan Dobson, who brings an extensive rugby resume to the program.

“Rugby is making a big impact at high schools and colleges, and we expect to see more and more recognition at the interscholastic level. We are so pleased to be involved in this process with Sebastian River and we encourage parents and athletic administrators to seek more information about girls’ varsity rugby and find out how it can benefit students and schools,” said Nigel Melville, USA Rugby CEO and President of Rugby Operations.

The Sebastian River Sharks kick off the first of their six-match season in early October. All home games will be played in Shark Stadium, on Sebastian River High School’s campus.

The program, which began recruitment of students in the spring of 2008, fielded more than 50 female athletes who expressed interest in attending preseason training. After a week of tryouts and two weeks of preseason camp, the initial lineup was narrowed to 30 to create the team’s first official roster.

“Girls’ rugby will enhance athletic opportunities for females and continue Sebastian River High School’s commitment to Title IX and all that it encompasses, including college scholarships,” said Sebastian River Athletic Director Michael Stutzke, who initiated talks with USA Rugby on adding a program in December 2007.

Sebastian River High School is a public high school with 1,977 students and sponsors 17 interscholastic sports for boys and girls. The school has a diverse student body and is committed to expansion of opportunity for male and female students in athletics.

The Sebastian River girls’ varsity squad will be supplemented with start-up uniforms, game and practice equipment by USA Rugby and valued sponsor World Rugby Shop.

For more information on the movement for girls’ high school varsity rugby in the U.S. please contact Becky Carlson.

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