Prep Rugby: United looks to add to tradition
Sandy • In terms of competition, Colin Puriri and his United Rugby squad have a lot to look forward to.
For the first time in its 11-year history, United a club out of Alpine, made up mostly of Lone Peak and American Fork athletes will compete in the Utah State championships, which will be held this weekend at the University of Utah.
You see, Puriri has traditionally been forced to choose between the state championships and the national tournament, which were always held simultaneously. That isn't the case this year. As a result, United will face Herriman on Friday, while Snow Canyon and Trybe, (formerly Highland High School), will battle in the second semifinal.
With the title match being played on Saturday, Puriri can't help but be excited about the possible exposure his team could garner locally with a solid showing.
"This is good for us," Puriri said. "We feel like we can come in and compete. We have high hopes, and a young team with five sophomores and just three seniors. It's going to be good to be able to compete at the state level."
Nationally, United is already well known. With a long reputation of success, Puriri's team is athletic, tough, fast, and difficult to play against on both sides. Zach Webber has garnered All-American honors for his play this season. Calvin Whiting is a fierce defender capable of making crunching tackles.
This past weekend, United advanced to the title match of the USA Rugby Boys High School National Club Championships. Once there, things didn't go well, as Cathedral, a team based out of Indianapolis, came away with a 51-0 win.
"We came out and made some mistakes early, and the next thing we knew, we were already down," Puriri said. "We felt like if we could've converted some tries early this could've been a different match. Even at halftime we were only down 20-0 and we felt like we were still in the match. But things really kind of snowballed from there."
Still, the loss, however bitter, doesn't do much to temper the success United has seen from year to year. Saturday represented the fifth time United qualified for the title match, with Puriri's team winning it all in 2010.
Even with a slow start, partially due to inexperience and partially due to injury, United stands at 10-3 this season, and advanced farther than its Utah rival Trybe in the tournament this past weekend.
With the state and national tournament still to be played, the opportunity for more wins, and perhaps a championship is there. One thing is for sure, though: United has carved a niche for itself on the landscape of state high school rugby.
And it's a tradition that could become more rich in the following weeks.
United rugby team
United is 10-3 this season.
United has made five consecutive title appearances in the club national championships.
Colin Puriri's brother coaches Snow Canyon.