There is a new sport in Siouxland that is getting a lot of attention. It requires the fitness and endurance of soccer and the strength and physicality of both wrestling and football. It’s called Rugby and it’s growing very quickly. Siouxland already has several college teams like USD, WIT and Wayne State as well as nearby schools UNI, Iowa, UNL, SDSU and Iowa State but did you know about the Siouxland United High School Rugby Football Club?
The Siouxland United High School Rugby Football Club started just a few years ago in 2010 and has already seen some great success both on and off the pitch. It’s made up of high school students all across Siouxland and has had kids from as far as Ponca, NE participating. Their all male team, the Siouxland Wolves, compete against teams from Omaha, Lincoln, Sioux Falls and Council Bluffs. Their competition draws more players and has more experience but that hasn’t stopped them or prevented their talent from being recognized.
Coach Vernon Helt started the Siouxland Wolves team and has already seen kids recruited to play college rugby. He has also had several kids play for the Nebraska All State Rugby teams and one, Ryan Littlegeorge of South Sioux City, compete in an All American game. They play 15’s in the spring and 7’s in the fall. The difference between the two is one is played 15 vs. 15 with 30 minute halves and the other is 7 vs. 7 with 7 minute halves. The 7’s is known as Olympic Rugby because it’s now an Olympic sport. It is very fast paced and high scoring because it’s played on the same size field as 15’s.
When asked why he started coaching he said he wanted to share a game that he loves with the community. He played on an older team and many of his teammates at the time had high school kids interested in playing but there wasn’t a team. He said that Scott Russell, his coach, was so passionate about playing, coaching and sharing the game that it rubbed off on him and he wanted to follow in his footsteps and the journey started.
Siouxland high school rugby is set up similar to regular high school sports. You have 4 years of eligibility, grades 9-12, and you must be passing your classes. Also, if you’re not currently enrolled in high school you can still play as long as you’re pursuing your GED. Coach Helt said you don’t need experience playing rugby because everything is taught at practice and like most sports it’s a great way to channel aggression and be part of a team and keep kids out of trouble.
The Siouxland United High School Rugby Football Club is still building and always looking to add more players to their roster and looking to add more teams. They welcome younger players to their practices to play non contact and to learn the game. In the near future they would love to start a younger league in Siouxland and have teams play flag or two hand touch versions of rugby.
Coach Helt mentioned several different players on the roster like Chayse Hallowell, who has 3 years playing experience and played for the Nebraska All State team last year, who will have major contributions to the team this year as well as up and coming player Brock Anthony Reeves Jr. as someone to watch. Coach Helt emphasizes that the
“brain is their most important rugby muscle”
and that being honest, accountable and having fun is what it’s all about.
It should also be noted that all the coaches are volunteer and the team runs on donations and sponsors. Also, the home teams host the visitor teams. They feed them and hang out with them creating camaraderie and great respect for each other making an incredible atmosphere to play in.
“Better people make better players and hopefully they take that over into everyday life”
said Coach Vernon Helt.
The Siouxland Wolves start their season with an away match Sunday, April 12th against Central and will play in their first home match against West Omaha Rugby Saturday, April 18th at 1pm at the South Sioux City Soccer Complex. Good luck Siouxland Wolves Rugby and the entire Siouxland United High School Rugby Football Club organization!!!