WESTPORT, Conn. Staples High School's rugby team finished as the No. 4 team in Connecticut and had six players selected to the All-State team that won the New England Championship Tournament in Amherst, Mass.
Staples opened the season in March with a win in its pre-season "showcase" match against highly regarded New England powerhouse Belmont High School, from the Boston suburbs. The team then swept three games in the annual Fairfield Rugby Jamboree.
During the regular season, Staples' "A" side went 3-1 with wins over Simsbury, Cheshire and Madison. The lone "A" side regular-season blemish was a tightly contested game against Fairfield -- Staples lost by two points on a late score by the opposing side.
Staples opened the state championship tournament against a very tough Cheshire side. The teams played to regulation and overtime ties, but Westport won a Tyler Book penalty kick. Staples then lost to state champion Greenwich 17-0 in what was Greenwich's narrowest win of the tournament. Staples finished its season in the consolation game, falling to much-improved home-host Simsbury, 17-5. For the season, Staples "A" side put 8 wins up against 3 defeats.
Staples 58-man squad was led by senior captains Bret Epright, Ed Hickson and Jesse Sussman. Epright was named to the All-State select side, along with fellow seniors Adam and Andrew Washington and Yuri Lenskiy, and juniors Mikell Washington (younger brother of Adam and Andrew), and Matt Cozzi.
Although Staples is losing its seniors, the team has a very bright future thanks to many returning starters: Juniors Mikell Washington, Chris Chu, Jackson Moss, David Levi, Stephan Patterson and Brian Book, and sophomores Matt Cozzi and Jackson Yang.
Junior David Levi helped start the Westport Parks and Recreation Department's summer rugby program. It's open to boys and girls entering grades six through nine -- and no experience is necessary. Right now, the program is scheduled to take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Wakeman "C." It will run from July 5 to Aug. 4. For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department 203-227-4386.
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