Rugby scrum breaks out in West Valley at Hunter High
Rugby players that live in West Valley have always had to join teams in other parts of the Salt Lake Valley. Not anymore. With the help of new head coach Josh Polamalu, Hunter High School has organized a club rugby team.
“We are a club sport and have players from Cyprus, Hunter, Kearns, Granger and Granite Peaks. We have some very experienced players as well as some newbies,” Polamalu said.
Rugby teams consist of 15 players; eight forwards who mainly get possession of the ball, and seven backs that carry and pass the ball. The ball can be passed, (but never forward), kicked and run until it is touched to the ground in the try area (end zone).
“Rugby is a game of stamina and endurance. You can be the fastest and strongest, but if you cannot last for 80 minutes, you will never make it,” Polamalu said.
Rugby is played in two halves of 40 minutes each. The ball only stops on infractions. To begin play again, rugby teams use the scrum (players from each team binding together in interlocking rows).
Hunter students had pleaded with Polamalu for some time to organize a team. In January, he approached the youth organizing committee to help him get started.
Polamalu has been impressed with the physical condition of his players. Hunter seniors Howard and Hunter Tiatia are important parts of the team’s success.
“We have so much potential. We could take a championship. All of our varsity team is athletic and very ready,” Polamalu said.
With the rise in interest at the school, Polamalu is hoping to expand next season. He plans to help organize a girls team and a team for seventh- and eighth-graders.
“There has always been an interest here. Some of the better players live in West Valley. Our team will be really good. We really need the support of our community,” Polamalu said.
Hunter beat Alta in its inaugural game, 65-0, March 8.
This year’s team includes: Darren Ainuu, Gabe Benedito, Israel Benedito, Coleton Bryant, Dusty Cole, Lisiate Faanunu, Alexis Flores, TJ Funaki, Penitito Iona, Joseph Tiatia, Ofa Kaufusi, Cheyne Laita, Kitiona Lolani, Samiu Lomu, Mahonri Makalio, Siale Makalio, Mateo Martinez-Gatton, Edwin Mckenzie, Riley Mutitalo, Hyrum Purcell, Falefiaalii Savea, Shaun Scanlan, Nixon Siania, Jade Solomona, Kingzlee Tabile, Roger Taliulu, Himinai Tausinga, Doug Thorup, Howard Tiatia, Hunter Tiatia, Ian Togia, James Tulaga and Jaggar Wall.