Snow Canyon vs. Las Vegas Blackhawks, Rugby, Las Vegas, NV, Jan. 6, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
LAS VEGAS – OK, the real rugby season doesn’t start for a couple of months. But that fact didn’t slow down the Snow Canyon rugby team in a “warm-up” game against the Las Vegas Blackhawks. Behind Wyatt Parry and Brooks Maile, the Warriors steamrolled the Blackhawks 45-0.
“We took a lot of players (32) and all of them got to play at least half the match, so that was good,” said Michael Puriri, the coach and mastermind behind Snow Canyon’s astonishing success on the rugby pitch. “We have about 10 players who have been playing rugby over here since about seventh grade that are the core of our program. But it’s so fun to see some of these new players out there. They have big smiles on their faces because it is so fun and they just love it.”
Puriri and Jay Day have been the instigators behind the rugby boom at Snow Canyon, with the Warriors capturing multiple state titles and tournament championships over the past decade. Part of that has been Snow Canyon’s willingness to travel just about anywhere for tournaments and matches as warm-ups to the high school season, which begins in March.
“This was our first match, but we’ve been going since December and will continue through May,” Puriri said. “We’re going to a tournament at UCLA (Storer Classic) next week, then the Blackhawks are coming to our place. Then we have the Phoenix Tournament, which we’ve done every year. The boys just love it.”
With these preseason tournaments, Puriri is allowed to use players from any of the schools in St. George. Once the high school club season begins, he will be limited to using only Snow Canyon High Schools students.
In February, Snow Canyon will host a six-team tournament that will include Herriman, another perennial Utah powerhouse in rugby.
“We’re really excited for that tournament,” Puriri said. “It should be very competitive. Having Herriman come down raises the level. They have a great program. And then in March, the regular season begins.”
Snow Canyon opens the high school season Mar. 3 against Westlake.
Puriri praised the leaders on his team, including Parry and Andy Day. He was also excited about Brooks Maile, who is a Pine View student, but plays with Snow Canyon in the preseason.
“Oh man, you should see him play rugby,” Puriri said. “When we get big guys who play football, it’s really exciting because they see that they get to run with the ball. Today, he ran so many guys over. He’s tough to bring down.”
Parry is the “quarterback” for Snow Canyon. His older brother, Connor Parry, was a star for Snow Canyon and is now a starter on the BYU rugby club. Andy Day, who was a star kicker and receiver on the Snow Canyon football team, kicks all the rugby conversions for SC, and has “an amazing boot,” Puriri said.
Snow Canyon rugby has also picked up an ardent group of followers.
“Man, the support from the fans and community has been amazing,” Puriri said. “We had more fans at the match today than Las Vegas did, and it was on their field. I just want to put thanks out there for all our supporters for all they’ve done for us over the years. We really appreciate it.”