The Youngstown City School District was one of the few area school districts to field a rugby team last year and this season, it will field two -- one at East High School and one at Chaney High School.
The East High Golden Bears Rugby team won the state championship last year, the first year the school had a team.
Bill Burton, Golden Bears coach last year, is moving this year to jump start and grow the Chaney Cowboys Rugby team. He’s leaving the East team in the capable hands of Tim Bowser who was assistant coach last year.
“I love the Golden Bears. I love the East Side and all of the kids, the administrators, everyone,” Burton said. “I really enjoyed my time coaching the East team. But the opportunity to coach at my alma mater and to put Cowboys Rugby on the map is just something I couldn’t pass up.”
Burton, a 1994 Chaney graduate, looks forward to returning as a coach to walk the same halls he walked as a student.
Both teams will play in Division II and Burton believes they’ll both be successful. They’ll face each other during the season, adding a new sport to the City Series rivalry.
Joining Burton as an assistant coach at Chaney will be Bryce Deloe, a rugby player from Moon Township, Pa., who is a promising young coach. Bowser will be joined at East by Youngstown State University rugby and track athlete Tamara Gandy.
Rugby sign ups at Chaney will be Friday, Nov. 16, during lunch periods. At East, sign ups will be through the lunch periods Monday, Nov. 19.
Practices will begin in mid-December and the seasons for both schools will begin in early March.
The new Chaney coach said anyone who’s interested in the sport should sign up. Familiarity with the game isn’t a prerequisite.
Of last year’s Golden Bears state champion rugby team, only two members had played the game before joining the team.