By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Edward Gostick was playing full rugby games by age 4, and, by third grade, helped lead his team to a silver medal in the German National Rugby Championships. But when his family moved to the United States in seventh grade, he suddenly found it hard to play the sport he loved.
Now a sophomore in high school, Gostick has moved to change that story for young local rugby players and newcomers alike by starting one of the first middle school teams in the area.
“I wanted to promote the sport of rugby to my town,” Gostick said of his decision to form the team. “This seemed like a great way to do that.”
Gostick grew up with rugby in his family. Originally from the United Kingdom, his father had played since kindergarten and quickly imbued Edward with his passion for the sport.
“I was throwing a ball before I could walk,” Edward noted.
Initially conceiving this middle school team as his Eagle Scout project, Boy Scout Gostick now spends two nights a week alongside a team of certified coaches teaching 40 area children the basics of a sport with which few Americans are familiar.
There is, after all, no high-profile national U.S. rugby league. In Massachusetts, high school teams are few and far between with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) only hosting its first rugby championship in 2017. On the middle school level, the Massachusetts Youth Rugby website lists just 17 programs in the two divisions that cover grades three through six and seven through eight respectively.
“It is growing,” Gostick said. “But it is still very much in the early stages in the U.S.”
Due to that absence of local teams, Gostick has struggled to find a home for his rugby talents. Yet even after leaving a thriving rugby scene in Germany for the smaller American one, Gostick never saw that struggle as a reason to hang up his cleats.
“It’s always been a part of my family and my household,” he said. “So when I came here, it wasn’t a question of should I play rugby, it was a question of where should I play?”
That search left him commuting to Worcester to play.
Now in high school, where local Algonquin Regional High School does offer girls and boys rugby programs, he and his coaches have been faced with a new problem of struggling to recruit experienced athletes to field a competitive team.
“We get kids who know nothing about the sport,” he said. “They heard it was something interesting and thought they should try it out.”
Ultimately, Gostick is excited to offer interested young rugby players a road that he didn’t have through the beginner and intermediate levels of the sport.
“We’re still in the early stages definitely,” Gostick said. “We’ve still got plenty of a way to go with these kids. But we like where we’re going.”
For more information on Gostick’s team, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nseaglesrugby.