On June 14, in Los Angeles, the Tonga rugby team defeated the United States, 18-9, at StubHub Center.
The Wando rugby club team faced Greenville High School in a battle in the middle of the season. It was a team Wando rugby has never defeated and a team who regularly plays in the state championship.
A loss wouldn’t be a disgrace to this up-and-coming Wando squad, but a win could make it a special season. Wando defeated Greenville in a close match on a neutral field in Columbia, vaulting the Warriors to go on a tear and not lose again until the state championship game.
Surely not winning the state title was painful for co-head coaches Tod Sheperd and Chris Davis, but they like their Warriors’ chances next year when they return more than 20 juniors, and only lose five seniors. Bent on redemption this Wando team could very well win the state title in the upcoming season.
Every year this Wando rugby squad suits up, they get better. In their fifth official season, they continue to build a program to rival state adversary Chapin High School. Part of that building process is getting more players and expanding the team. Sheperd and Davis are looking to create a JV team in addition to the varsity squad at Wando this year.
Another interesting thing about this Wando program is that any high school student in the area can join the team. Just show up ready to play, because they are always looking for more players. Not every high school in the area has a rugby team yet, and Davis and Sheperd are trying to ignite the interest level in rugby in this area. They hope that the World Cup Qualifying match between the U.S. and Canada on Aug. 17 at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island can help draw attention to this growing sport in Charleston.
Tod Sheperd not only serves as a co-head coach for the Wando rugby team, but also as a liaison to the Canadian rugby team while in Charleston. This match is a major sporting event for the Charleston area. The last U.S. World Cup qualifying match was in Houston , and it yielded more than 22,000 fans in the stadium vs. Ireland.
According to Baron Hanson, Director of USA Rugby strategy locally, these matches are similar to international soccer matches, like the World Cup, in terms of passion and excitement of the fans. People will come from all over the country and, of course, Canadians will invade Charleston for the weekend. Charleston presents a family atmosphere to go along with the violence of the sport to provide a balance of family and frenzy to this sporting event.
All U.S. fans are advised to wear blue to the match while Canadians will don their national color of red. The U.S. goes into this qualifier slightly overmatched on paper but the last time these two teams faced each other the U.S. squeaked out with a 12-6 victory over the Canadian squad in 2009.
The tickets are only $15 to this once in a lifetime international extravaganza in our very own backyard. So get out there and show your support for the red, white, and blue when the take on the Canadians at Blackbaud Stadium on Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m.