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‘Smashing success’
FHS Rugby team’s trek to England hones many skills

A week-long trip to England costing around $35,000 bought the Farragut High School Rugby team a sharper competitive edge honed against superior high school competition.

While absorbing a new culture.

“The highlight of the trip was probably seeing the guys being competitive,” said FHS head coach Josh Holt about the 29 players and handful of adult chaperones joining Holt for the Spring Break tour (Sept 14-20), mostly in Manchester, England.

”We sorta had it as a goal to expose the boys to the culture of rugby in another country,” Holt added, “both playing and watching on a professional level.

“And they also got to do a little sightseeing on the side and see a little bit of pro soccer. We didn’t watch any games, but we went to a couple of pro soccer stadiums over there, Manchester United and Liverpool.”

Robby Caudill, a senior wing player, said England “was amazing,” adding, “I’d say that I’m really glad that I saw Manchester United [soccer] Stadium. That was quite an experience.”

Aaron Hall, senior second row player, said, “I’d like to think that I played the best game of rugby that I’ve ever played, over there,” Hall added, “because they actually knew what they were doing.”

Farragut’s varsity team played two games while the FHS junior varsity played one.

“Their first game was about a seven-point match [difference], which was pretty good,” Holt said. “The second game for my varsity guys, they played against some 18 and 19 year-olds and lost pretty bad, about 46 to 5.

Having experienced high-level English rugby first-hand, Caudill said, “One thing that struck me in particular was how fast they played the game. It was a lot more continuous than it is over here. They didn’t emphasize contact as much as they did targeting weakness and attacking that.”

The trip’s effects seems to be rubbing off based on Farragut's first game back in Smoky Mountain Athletic Club action.

“As far as players are concerned, I think they came back with a lot of confidence and felt like they could play with anybody around here,” Holt said, as his Admirals sport a 3-0 SMAC record. “It just so happens that Monday night [March 24] they played Maryville, who we’ve never beaten in the last five years, and we ended up beating them by 40.”

With Holt estimating the trip costing around $35,000, “We fund-raised for what seemed about eight or nine months,” Holt said, adding that among their activities “we painted a playground over at the middle school.”

As for hospitality, “We were treated very well, everybody was very receptive of us and there were people that seemed excited that there were Americans around,” Holt said.

Other off the field observations from Caudill: “One thing that hit me was the exchange rate, and how much more expensive everything was over there. We went to a mall one day, and not only was it clean, they didn’t have a lot of hang-arounds.“I really liked the countryside, the area that we were staying, especially, was really nice,” the senior added about the youth hostel, formerly an old country estate. “There were a lot of fields surrounding us.”

The team also visited Liverpool “for a tour day.”

Farragut assistant coach is Matt Abernathy, who was unable to travel to England. Other FHS players are Aaron Campbell, Seth Carter, Daniel Chellette, David Clark, Zach Clendenen, Matt Coffey, Scott Corridean, Zach Corridean, Daniel Cupp, Chris Davidson, Dominic DePaoli, Joe Didgeon, Corey Ehinger, Nate Ford, B.J. Hardy, Daniel Huxtable, and Nick Isbill.

Other players are Reuben Izally, Mitchell Jamison, Dylan Jones, Adam Kasprzak, Ahad Kherani, Tommy Lawson, Andrew Leuthold, Kevin Mainini, Daniel Miller, J.P. Mix, Taylor Moore, Steven Nance, Matt Neuhart, Evan Noon, Vijay Patel, Scott Peters, Brian Rich, David Rich, David Richardson, Carlos Rodriguez, Kevin Rose, Logan Stank, Taylor Stewart, Josh Stiffin, Josh Trent and Alex Tweed.

Holt said the long-range plan is to visit England “every three or four years, that way at least each class gets to go once.”


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