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MSSD and Hyde to Co-Host Rugby Tournament

Quick! Name a sport where everyone gets to run with the ball. Where no one plays one specific position. Where everyone plays offense and defense. This is the fastest growing high school sport in Washington DC.

If you said rugby, pat yourself on the back.  Most people have never seen the sport before, but thanks to MSSD’s partnerships with fellow high schools’ in the Washington DC area, rugby fans will get a chance to watch the sport live and in person when MSSD and Hyde Leadership Public Charter School co-host a rugby tournament with eight teams, including MSSD, on May 30.

MSSD will field a rugby team for the first time in school history, and is the first known deaf high school rugby team in the country.  The team will be co-coached by MSSD Athletic Director and football coach Mark Burke and Hyde Leadership Public Charter School rugby Head Coach Talmage Bayer.  Bayer is internationally recognized for setting up the rugby program at Hyde, which was the first all African American rugby team in the country, and is one of the top high school rugby teams in the country.

The rugby program at Hyde has been a bonanza for the school publicity wise. Hyde has been featured in countless news stories including Fox Sports, The Washington Post, local and national TV stations, local and national TV newspapers, as well as TV stations as far away as New Zealand and Australia. And upcoming news stories about the program include a documentary being filmed about the team, as well as a book being written and a movie project.

Setting up the first deaf rugby team in the USA could also be a PR bonanza for MSSD.  Bayer explains, “Setting up a rugby team would generate excellent PR for MSSD because this will be the first deaf rugby team in the USA. It is also an opportunity for people around the area to learn more about MSSD and the excellent work they do.” Rugby is also an inexpensive and easy sport to establish.  Bayer says, “Rugby is similar to starting up a soccer team in terms of logistics and expenses. The expenses are minimal compared with other contact sports like football and there are a lot less logistical requirements.” The game will “sell” itself to your student body once kids have the opportunity to play it, they become hooked.”

Burke expects rugby to be well-liked at MSSD.  “It’s a new sport for many of our students, many whom have never witnessed the sport in person before. It’s a very easy sport to pick up. No one is limited to one position which is exciting and makes it fair for everyone who plays. Plus having Talmage Beyer, the best high school rugby coach in the area, helping to coach the MSSD team is a bonus for our students.”

One of the great benefits of rugby is that the players on the team do not play specific positions, like in football.  Instead every player has multiple opportunities to run with the ball during the game, and everyone is expected to make tackles on defense. Bayer explains, “Rugby values all sizes and body types.”

Another perk about rugby is that every school is supportive towards other schools setting up a new team, and will schedule games versus them. “Coaches and administrators from most teams go out of their way to help out new programs by scheduling games, clinics, and coaching sessions to get new programs off the ground.”

Bayer expects MSSD, once they set up a program, to become competitive relatively quickly. “With the existing athletic base at MSSD, and the discipline your teams possess, I suspect MSSD will follow a similar track to Hyde, if not faster.”  Hyde, which is similar in size to MSSD, started their rugby program in 2000, and today has over 60 boys and over 30 girls participating in the program.

Admission to the game is free, and teams will travel from throughout the area will participate in the tournament.