Clermont Coyotes seeking players

There’s a new game in town this summer in Clermont County.

The Clermont County Rugby Football Club Coyotes launched earlier this summer, and on July 28 the squad held a rugby skills clinic at the Batavia Township Park.

Tricia Sleet is the president of the Club, and she said she founded the team because her children, both of whom are in the West Clermont school district, would run out of options once they got to the high school level.

“We have a youth program for rugby, it’s a K-8 program called Rookie Rugby Cincinnati,” Sleet said. “Once my oldest entered ninth grade, I would have had to drive him up to Lakota to play for their club team, out to Walnut Hills, or up to Winton Woods. I decided to start a club on the east side of town.”

Sleet said the plan is to find enough players to play fall games in October and early November against other local club teams.

“We’d play seven versus seven,” Sleet said. “We’d play clubs that I mentioned earlier, along with Moeller and St. Xavier. In the spring, it’s the regular season and it’s 15 vs. 15. We’d have to have at least 22 boys to make that successful. We haven’t had signups yet, they should open in the next couple weeks.”

Practices for those games would be held at the Batavia Township Park, where the team held a skills camp over the weekend. Sleet said the camp was just a basic overview of rugby, and added the potential to expand down the road is something the club would look into if there’s enough interest.

“We just had our first camp on Saturday,” Sleet said. “It was an introduction to rugby for high school boys. At this time, we can only do high school boys. If we get enough interest, we can expand it for girls.”

Sleet said the location for home games is being worked on by Ohio Rugby, but the likely location is Brimelow Field in Fairfield, home of the Cincinnati Wolfhounds. As for the sport itself, Sleet gave a very quick overview of rugby, calling it a mashup of football and soccer.

“Rugby uses a ball similar to the shape of a football, but it’s a little bit bigger,” Sleet said. “You carry the ball forward, but any passing has to be lateral or backward. You can also kick it forward.”

Unlike football, pads aren’t worn in rugby, nor is any other protective equipment like a helmet. That actually helps cut down on injuries, according to Sleet.

“There are no pads required in rugby,” Sleet said. “Any sport you play, you always have a chance at injury. Concussions in rugby are less than a lot of other sports. It’s a completely different style of tackling than you do in football.”

A 2008 study in The Journal of Athletic Training determined that the injury rate for rugby was roughly 5.2 injuries for every 1000 athletic exposures, which is close to the number determined for football. Sleet said anyone interested in joining the club needs only to be a student in high school with a pair of cleats.

“We’re looking for any boy that is 9th or 10th grade that is interested in playing,” Sleet said. “They need to have cleats, and the cost of registration will cover the kits, which would include the shirts and jerseys.”

In addition to players, Sleet said the club is looking for sponsors, with several different levels available.

“Our top level, we’re looking for two: one on the back of the jersey and one on the front,” Sleet said. “We’ll keep them for three years. We’re looking for two midline sponsors on each shoulder, and smaller levels go on the social media and everybody goes on a traveling banner that we take with us anywhere we go.”

Anyone interested in playing or potentially sponsoring the team can contact the squad through several different mediums, according to Sleet.

“They can visit our clermontcountyrugbyfootballclub.com, our website,” Sleet said. “They can visit our Facebook page or our Instagram page under the same name, or they could email us.”

Editor’s note: A post on the Clermont Coyote’s Facebook page has clarified the team is looking for high school players of all age levels, grades 9-12. The story originally said they were looking for underclassmen only. The article has been updated to reflect this.

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By Garth Shanklin

Sports Editor