Green Hornets rugby hosted the Maryland Youth Rugby Festival at the end of July. Fourteen rugby clubs participated and produced 73 teams across all age groups.
“As a lifelong rugby fan, to see hundreds of children, volunteers and parents show up for this event is awe-inspiring,” said Green Hornets rugby commissioner Kevin Gibson. “We are very grateful to Josh Banks and his team at Kinder Farm Park for enabling this festival to happen.”
The highlight for Green Hornets rugby was the U9 team, which won the 2023 Maryland state championship. The team went undefeated in three standard pool and two championship games.
Gibson congratulated coach Emma Naylor, coach Andy Naylor, Charlotte Gibson, Eli Letteney, Killian Glasgow, Ryder Carleton, Lucas Aquino, Audrey Clark, Leah Nelson, Elliott Naylor, Georgia McGrail, Amelia "Millie" Davis, Carter Herring, Hudson Merriman, Daniel Morgan, Ronan Dapkus and Luca Coffman.
The Green Hornets rugby program had its share of challenges during the training season. Wildfires, air quality and intense heat contributed to a brutal training season, but coaches said that everyone gave their all during practice. Leading up to the season, Nate Curry, Harry Graham and Mabry Stevenson trained with the team and regular season but could not make it to the tournament. Coaches Dan Morgan and Mat Merriman kept the team’s focus during practices and games.
The Green Hornets U11 team won the State Shield final, 30-22, against the Andover Apaches. Their come-from-behind victory was capped by two tries in the final minutes from captain Kieran Gibson. After being eliminated from the championship final on points difference, the team brought home the silverware in a back-and-forth game.
U11s had a state classic tournament team that narrowly missed out on the playoffs. Having gone 1-1 in the team’s opening two matches, the squad lost out in the final minutes of their final game against the Apaches.
“I am so proud,” coach Andrew Hollway said. “They showed a lot of heart and never gave up.”
The team of Rachel Werner, Elliot Clark, Delaney Hollway, Wes Kamas, Alex Ward, Colton Maccallair and Anna Nelson showcased skills and tactical awareness to make it a close game. Graham Fretwell and Catherine Cox missed the tournament but plan to be back next year.
While there was no state championship at the U7 level, the team won most of their games, with coaches noting their squad’s energy and enthusiasm as keys to their success. Coached by Eric Dapkus, Derek Chell and Allen Murphy, the team consisted of Sophie Donze-Sanchez, Maxwell Jerdonek, Austen Dumond, Julia Nelson, Samuel Nelson, Brendan Burghardt, Theodore Chell, Miles Fretwell, Jack Morgan, Daniel Murphy, Benjamin Davis, Max Lester, Lennon Naylor, Lochlan Dapkus, Max Letteney and Jasper Graham.
These teams had success during the season but both groups came up short in the final push for state titles. Led by coaches Kurt Prager, Adam Rosenberger and Sean Martin, both teams showed moments of brilliance during the regular season.
“We put ourselves in a position to win the state tournament, but we were outnumbered on the final day, and with the summer heat, we simply ran out of steam in the end,” Rosenberger said.
Prager added, “So much was asked of our players, and we had a lot of 13-year-olds playing up on the 16s to help give us a shot.”
Martin emphasized that in his final season coaching, he could not have been prouder of the effort.
“We had a mix of new players and veterans,” he said. “We learned so much about the sport and how it is played. We practiced so hard, and we finished with our heads high. As coaches, we hope that we have given these young men and women a foundation to build upon … we hope some of these kids will one day play in college because of the things they learned as part of the Green Hornets.”
The U13 team featured Ellie Hollway, Noah Lagrossa, Jeffrey Landis, Heath Gardner, Dorsey Berlin, Stuart Werner, Landan Wieciech, Aviana Epperson, Ryan Gallicchio, Zachary Nield, Gavin Prager, Lila Posey, William Gibson, Lincoln Latchaw, Elly Davis, Jacob Frost, Owen Tong-Holcomb, Vaiosina Aetonu, Evan Williamson, Jack Becker, Isla Clark and Madilyn Stevenson.
For the U16 team, members included Bailey Benyo, AJ Harmse, Chase Martin, Alejandro Almodovar-Vives, Aiden Prager, Grayson Robinson, Lucy Davis, Coleman Eaton and Michael Cooney.