FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Known for its football team, Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale is now a powerhouse in rugby, drawing national attention and inspiring its players to dream big.
The school’s rugby team has the support and resources that many high school programs in Florida do not have. The backing of school administrators has helped make it rank among the top 10 in the U.S.
That success has opened the door for these young athletes to further their education by playing the game.
“It really helps with a lot of colleges offering scholarships and the grants, and so on and so forth,” said Rocky Miyares, the team’s head coach. “We have a couple of kids playing at [Florida State University, a kid playing at [the University of South Florida]. There’s tons of opportunities out there.”
Miyares said his main goal is helping his players receive college scholarships. Under Miyares, the team won the 2016 state championship, drawing interest from across the nation.
Cardinal Gibbons senior Chard Tiernan is in the national pool that selects players to represent the U.S. in the Olympics.
“It’s definitely a whole new level, just ’cause everyone’s extremely dedicated to the game, so everyone’s working to just getting to be the best that they can be,” he said, “so to be able to do that would be insane.”
Fellow senior Yahweh Jeudy is also among the top high school players in the country. He first played rugby as a freshman.
There are 15 players to a side, two 40-minute halves, continuous play with lots of passing, scoring and tackling with no pads.
“It’s not just confusion; it’s organized chaos,” said Jeudy.
Jeudy will be going to Iowa on a football scholarship, but rugby may play a bigger role later on.
In the U.S., there is now a professional league, and there’s the opportunity of the Summer Games.
“It its purpose to me is after my football career, definitely, I’ll purse that, absolutely,” he said. “I come from Haiti, you know what I mean? I was given an opportunity here, so … doing the best I can, why not?”
Olympic glory, a chance to play on a professional level in the U.S. or overseas. Rugby is for players who have the following in common.
“You like getting hit? You like running with the ball? You like having a chance to be in open space? There’s a game for you,” said Miyares. “It’s just smash mouth and you can get hammered down and just run into people, which is awesome, especially if you enjoy it.”
Cardinal Gibbons has three games left before they make a run to the state championship.
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