Catholic Central Rugby players Charles Fitrakis ‘23 and Brogan Maher ‘23 were selected for the USA Rugby South Panther Academy’s 2021 U16 team, competing in the North American Invitational 7s held in Salt Lake City this past July. The tournament is one of the largest rugby tournaments in the world, with well over 1,000 players in attendance from the USA, Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and Canada.
USA Rugby South Panther Academy is a high performance program promoting a culture of excellence in rugby and beyond. The program offers connections with collegiate programs and participation in national and international competitions at the highest level.
For two players in their first year of the sport, Head Coach Ian Ronayne ‘08 couldn’t be more proud.
“This is a huge achievement for these two and our program,” said Coach Ronayne.
Fitrakis and Maher were key contributors to the U16 team’s success at the North American Invitational 7s, gaining notice at the national level and generating interest from a number of universities.
Following their successes in Salt Lake City, Fitrakis and Maher were selected to play in the Academy’s England and Wales tour this June, with Fitrakis competing for the USA Rugby South U16 ELITE team. The team will compete throughout the United States, England, and Wales. Fitrakis was also selected to play for USA Rugby South in the Tropical 7s tournament in Tampa, Florida this April, another key recruiting opportunity.
Only recently founded in the 2016/2017 season, an impressive number of players from Catholic Central have already gone on to play at the collegiate level:
- Quinn Murray '20: USA Selects
- Josh Kipp '19: Michigan State & USA Rugby South u-23
- Lucas Hendershot '19: Michigan State & All Big Ten Honors
- Shivam Chandra '19: Michigan State
- David Saval '19: Michigan State
- Jack Stephens '21: Adrian College & 2021 College National Champion Runner-up
- Thomas Newell '21: Loyola University
- Shawn St. Germain '20 -Western Michigan University
- Devin Jennings '20- Western Michigan University
- Nick Oliver '17- Michigan State University
- Nicolas DeLibero '19- Grand Valley State University
- Noah Van Hook '19: Detroit Men's Rugby Football Club
- Brendan Nell '19: University of Michigan
While Catholic Central’s rugby season doesn’t begin until the spring, the team’s preparations have already begun. Current students interested in learning more about rugby are invited to attend drop-in clinics, every Wednesday from 6pm-8pm in the Aux Gym.
“This is something that is new to the program that I wanted to instill as head coach,” explained Coach Ronayne. “Since 99% of our players are new to rugby and we have to re-teach the game every year, these clinics will allow us to get a head start on the season and prepare for our matches.”
For now, mark your calendars for the rugby team’s season opener on March 12 against Houston-based St. Thomas High School and follow the team on Twitter (@DCC_Rugby) and Instagram (@DCCRugby).