Leader Blues

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

NEIGHBORS >> Cabot rugby

BY MELISSA TUCKER
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: High-schoolers start rugby team in Cabot with Pirate mascot

The next bad pass means five pushups,” yells Kris McKinney, the assistant rugby coach for Cabot’s new rugby team.
“I say we do 10,” one player replies.

They seem dedicated. After running a couple of drills, the players stop to get water and automatically form up a circle to start passing the ball again before the break is over.

The practice they’re at is not a regular one for the team of high school-aged students. They are at Interstate Park in Little Rock and will run a few practice drills with the men from the Little Rock Rugby Football Club.

The association with the men’s club and the birth of the Cabot Pirates team, dates back to last summer when Kyle Msall, of Cabot, played a few games with the men’s club and became interested in starting one in his hometown. Now Msall is Cabot’s team captain.

Head coach for the Pirates, Pat Beaird, said he tried to get a team going at Hendrix College in Searcy but didn’t have any luck rounding up players.

A year and a half later, he found himself coaching the Cabot team, which has recruited 24 players since November.
“This is good, they’re learning how to think,” said McKinney as he and Beaird watch the students learn to scrum down and run drills with the men’s team.

The practice has turned into a hodgepodge of advice given out by the men’s club coach and veteran players as well as the two Cabot coaches. Everyone is talking at the same time. The young novices just nod and try to take it all in.

In their first game of the season, the team beat Cordova High School in a match played in Jonesboro with a score of 27-0.
The team will play next in the under-19 division of the Ozark Tournament held in Tulsa, Oka., on the weekend of April 8 and April 9.

Three of Cabot’s players, Msall, Jason Aist and Bryan Bopp were chosen for the Ozark Rugby Union’s under-19 select side, an “all-star” team of players. As members of the select side team, they invited to play a game in to St. Louis next weekend.
“When you play for a select side, you’re considered one of the better players of all the teams in your union and you’re asked to represent those teams,” said Beaird.

He said the three don’t even realize what an honor it is to be chosen for the select side.

“They haven’t been playing long enough to know you can play for years and not be asked to play on this level. The fact they’re on a brand new team and are brand new players and got picked is huge.”

The Pirates practice on Tuesday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The next home game will be against the Bentonville Blues on April 15.

Beaird said, the team is not affiliated with the high school and will welcome any players under 19 years of age, male or female.