MSSD Model 7s Rugby Team Shines at the Ambassador’s Shield Match
Hundreds of area rugby fans turned out on a mild and sunny November day to watch a variety of club and league teams play a series of matches in the 13th Annual Ambassador's Shield Rugby Match. The New Zealand Embassy sponsors the match to raise awareness of a little-played sport in the United States. The MSSD's Model 7s played against Hyde Leadership Public Charter School.
The Model 7s are the only all-deaf high school rugby team in the country, and one of a select number of schools in the Washington, D.C., area that field a team. The MSSD team is in their second year under the leadership of Coach Mark Burke. In preparation for the Ambassador's Shield, the MSSD and Hyde School teams practiced together at Hyde School on November 10. Coach Burke and Hyde coach Tal Bayer are working collegially to help develop the skills of athletes from both schools.
"The rugby-playing community takes a different approach to competition," said Burke at the November 15 match. "There is a strong spirit of sharing the love of the game and sharing information on skill building and how best to play the game."
The Model 7s won special applause from the crowd for performing a version of the New Zealand "Haka" war chant just prior to the start of the game. One of the MSSD players, Joe Paongo, who comes from Tonga in the South Pacific where rugby is hugely popular, led the chant.
The actual rugby season begins in the spring. Plan to come and see one of MSSD's matches and find out how this dynamic game is played!