Dear Friends of the Stallions,
As society moves its way out of the pandemic, the rugby community is making progress in getting back to some form of normalcy. I am pleased to report that, in the state of Illinois at the youth and high school levels, in 2022 we once again played competitive seasons, with champions crowned at all levels.
Here is an update on how things went for the Stallions in 2022.
Middle School Rugby. Unfortunately, we did not have any players who wished to participate at the middle school level. Our leadership realizes that this level of play is the foundation of having a successful high school squad and are committed to once again fielding a middle school side. To that end, we have established a winter indoor program at this level with the Arlington Heights Park District, where we had nearly 30 participants. We also taught rugby once again at Cooper Middle School at the north end of Arlington Heights, resulting in five kids expressing interest in rugby, three of whom are now involved in preseason training.
High School Rugby. At the high school level, our varsity side played in Rugby Illinois Division 1, earned a spot in the playoffs and held their own against a Marist High School side that ultimately finished third in state. On the frosh/soph side of things, we had a strong number of freshmen and sophomores, but not enough for a full side. As a result, we combined with Naperville and the Fox Valley Chiefs to form a squad which played a full schedule of games. While not competitively successful, the frosh/soph set-up gave all of our young players a full season of rugby and a lot of minutes on the field.
Summer Sevens. Our sevens program was significantly more successful, finishing 2nd in the state championship series, which took place over four weekends in July.
Rugby X. in December, we completed a three week competition called Rugby X, which is 5-on-5 and played indoors, which is a good way to get our players prepared to jump into the January training sessions with renewed enthusiasm.
Select Side Play – The Rugby Illinois select side, the Tornados, was once again a popular challenge for some of our more ambitious players. This year, Christopher “Fatman” Thorndyke (nickname of his own choosing), Michael Hughes, Rhys Bangeman, Liam McGargill, Justin Puetz, and Louis Kok earned selection into the Tornados squad.
Club Leadership – We are also pleased to inform you that we have added some valuable members to our leadership group. Eric Bangeman has taken on the role of webmaster which will add rugby knowledge to the website’s structure as well as providing a significant cost savings to our bottom line. Charles Thorndyke is now an active member of our coaching staff and Lucy Thorndyke is managing our social media activities.
Player Safety – In support of our efforts to provide as safe a program as possible, Charles Thorndyke and I attended a three hour course presented by Rugby Illinois Medical director and USA Rugby Medical Committee Member John Honcharuk detailing the World Rugby Activate Injury Prevention Program for inclusion into our training and prematch sessions. The Activate program is one that was researched and implemented by the Bath Rugby Club and England Rugby Union and has documented in peer reviewed research a 26-40% decrease in soft tissue injuries and 29-60% decrease in concussions. Please know that this data reflects prevention at the youth and community level of rugby.
Accomplishments of Stallions Alumni
As always, we are quite proud of what our players do when they have moved on beyond our coaching! Check out what our kids are now doing in rugby since getting a foothold in the sport from our great club.
Willis Goodwin (RMHS) – Attended the USA Men’s National Team Academy in Chula Vista (CA) this fall and earned his way onto the Falcons (Eagles developmental squad) tour to South America in October and has been signed to the practice squad of Major League Rugby franchise New England Free Jacks. I am particularly proud of his winning the “Bronco” fitness test at that camp.
Spencer Krueger (JHHS) was a 2021 and 2022 squad member of the New England Free Jacks MLR franchise as a tighthead prop. Spencer is now serving as an assistant coach in the Ohio State Men’s Rugby program.
Noah Oaffer is playing at Western Michigan University.
Liam McGargill is playing at Iowa Central Community College.
Michael Hughes is playing at the University of Dayton.
Roland Ausmees is playing at the University of Minnesota.
Robert O’Brien is playing with the Lake County Men’s rugby club.
Logan McBain is playing at the University of Kentucky.
Vince Carso is playing at Ohio State University. He was named Big Ten MVP for the 2022 season in addition to captaining the Buckeye’s first side.
Rhys Bangeman is at the University of Iowa, starting at scrum-half on their first side and captaining the second side from fly-half on their second side. In September, he was selected to the Heart of America Collegiate Select Side to play in the annual Aspen Ruggerfest. He was named rookie of the year at the end of the 2022 season
John Maevski is the captain of the Northwest Woodsmen and is joined on that club by Nick Aiello and Brian Pateras.
Kevin Lydon, Jon Toriumi, Ben Hirschman, Joe Biagi and Willis Goodwin are playing with the Chicago Lions men’s club. Kevin serves as an assistant coach with the Lions high school team.
Connor Hulne is playing at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater.
Matteo Berenger is playing at the University of Arizona.
Max Derry captained the University of Colorado’s rugby team.
Zack Lingen is playing for the Grand Rapids RFC.
Andrew Collins played at the University of Dayton, served as their President and is now the Stallions Head Coach.
Thank you so much for the support you have shown the club. Without your help, these accomplishments would be noticeably diminished.
It is important to inform you though, that the need for financial support continues, perhaps more in the next couple of years than ever before. Facility rental rates are increasing, we have identified the need for the purchase of at least one specialized “tackle pad” to make our training more effective and safe, and we may need to consider the underwriting of registration fees as well as increased marketing initiatives in order to rebuild the middle school program.
We look forward to seeing you at Stallions matches and social events in 2023!
Yours in Rugby,
Director of Rugby
Arlington Stallions Rugby Club