Pendleton Rugby Club is dominant in winning state title


PENDLETON — For the second time in three years, Pendleton Rugby Club has produced a state champion.

Made up primarily of players who won the 2017 Indiana Youth Rugby Foundation title for the fifth- and sixth-grade level, Pendleton Rugby won the middle school (seventh and eighth grades) crown in Elkhart recently.

The team won going away with three convincing victories, outscoring opponents by a combined 159-0. Pendleton Rugby defeated Carmel 78-0 in the quarterfinal, Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger 38-0 in the semifinal and Westfield 43-0 in the state championship match.

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“It was pretty cool,” said Nick Trout, son of coach Curt Trout and tournament MVP. “It was fun to be a part of that team. We’ve been together for a while, and we know each other well.”

“It meant a lot to us,” said team captain Crew Boles, who starts his freshman year at Pendleton Heights High School in August. “We all worked really hard to get there. It was an emotional moment for all of us. We all put in a lot of work to get (a state championship).”

Pendleton Rugby, started in 2014, has gradually grown since its inception. It has teams playing at four levels: Fourth grade and under (flag), fifth and sixth grade, middle school and high school.

The program fielded only flag level teams until 2017, when it began the fifth- and sixth-grade team. It celebrated that initial season of tackle rugby with the state title. A middle school team was added in 2018, and a high school team was added this year.

Curt Trout said he had just a couple playing in 2014; that grew to seven in 2015; then 24, playing flag, in 2016. The four programs had 75 players this season. He is hoping to add girls programs at the middle school and high school levels next year.

“The key to growing is, we need more coaches,” Curt Trout said.

He said he had started programs before and made some mistakes. He learned a lesson and wanted to do things different in 2014 when the Pendleton program began.

For the first time, he started from the ground up. The gradual growth has helped the program not just sustain itself but thrive.

“We’ve done it in a way that has been successful,” he said. “We’ve got the right kids that want to work hard and learn the fundamentals.”

The regular season takes place in April and May with the tournament and all-star games running at the end of May and early June. The club had 11 players represent Pendleton at the recent Rocky Mountain Challenge, an all-star tournament, in Denver, Colorado.

Nick Trout picked up another MVP trophy at the all-star event.

“I like that it’s a fast-paced game, and there’s not a lot of stopping,” said Nick Trout, who will be an eighth grader at Pendleton Heights Middle School this fall. “You have to think fast and play hard.”

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