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Meet the Benedictine Cadets rugby team
Junior Kegan McCallum bulls his way for yardage during fierce action. (Courtesy: Madison McCallum)

Meet the Benedictine Cadets rugby team

RICHMOND, Va. — The Benedictine rugby team is leaping into the new season with a fervor and attitude, unlike its past few tempestuous seasons. The beginning of the rugby program during the 2015-16 school year was an extremely humble one. The team was few in number and lacked the required interest to become a sizable team, yet, those who were involved gave it their all, and the results showed. This pattern continued until 2020 when the repulsive coronavirus arose. “The 2020 season had one game before the season was shut down,” recalls Head Coach Brendan Williamson. “Coronavirus stopped all momentum the team had.”

The blow that COVID had on the rugby team was lasting. A new season did come about the following year, but the team was even smaller, and the enthusiasm of the players was less than strong. The Cadets were trounced in every match. This pattern of lackluster performance and enthusiasm continued — until this year. The turnout for the 2022-23 team radiated hope for the struggling program. “I played the year before and we could barely field a team,” notes rugby veteran Cristian Ramos ‘24. “This year I have seen double, maybe triple, the number of players, and their eagerness to learn is marvelous.”

The majority of the team are those who have never touched a rugby ball, but with the help of more experienced teammates and the excellent coaches, the crew is shaping into a highly capable force with which to be reckoned. The coaches shepherding the team toward success are Williamson, who also serves as a Benedictine theology teacher, Coach Russell McCallum and Coach Adam Thompson, who played rugby as a kid and in college and is now a substitute teacher at Benedictine. Other assistant coaches are Coach Lewis Bell, an English teacher at Benedictine, and Ethan Autrey, who is a Benedictine alumni and was a member of the inaugural team. “Everyone is helping everyone, and the coaches are phenomenal,” says another returning team member, Luke Drew ‘24. “The participation from everyone is amazing, I wish last season had looked like this.”

Rugby is a unique sport, and somewhat rare in the United States. Rugby is akin in nature to a battle; teammates are more than just teammates, they are brothers. “The team spirit and the comeraderie involved in such a violent game make it special,” notes Williamson. “It is a clash, yet after the war, the teams can still shake hands.”

In their first game of the season last month, the Cadets beat Fredericksburg’s Summit Academy, 35-7. Kegan McCallum had four tries (equivalent of a touchdown).
The season shows great promise for the Cadets of the rugby team. The program has come out of nowhere into the position it is at now and has the chance to make a statement and further grow the program into a competitive force. “This season brings passionate, eager to learn and bright young Cadets,” Williamson says. “I hope that the season is reflective of their efforts, as I know they are all putting their best foot forward. Regardless of the outcome, the team is becoming a tight-knit group of brothers and our future as a program is promising .”

This is an unedited user writing submission. The views, information, or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Best Version Media or its employees.

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