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'We brought it home': SLUH defends Missouri state rugby crown in 2022

After no rugby state finals for two years, the Jr. Bills got back to work in 2022, defending their 2019 title in dramatic fashion.

ST. LOUIS — There's the makings of a dynasty brewing in town at Saint Louis University High School.

After beating the Kansas City Jr. Blues from 16-12 on Sunday, the SLUH Jr. Bills defended their state rugby title.

SLUH won the state title in 2019, and the last two years were scrapped because of COVID, so they're still two-time reigning champs.

This year started off a bit wobbly, but the Billikens rounded into form when it mattered most.

"I'm really proud of them. Each year you have different things that you like or are excited about a certain team, but this one struggled out of the gate. And they were a good team, I knew they were way better than they were playing. And so it was really gratifying to see them figure it out and believe in themselves and get the job done," SLUH head coach Brian Corrigan said.

There's a good rivalry between SLUH and the Jr. Blues in rugby that spans the state of Missouri, and the SLUH players said that aspect gave this championship some extra juice.

"It's always great beating them. And it's always great playing them. Because the games are always separated by less than seven points... Just always a hard-fought battle," Corrigan said.

On the field, the Jr. Bills said some extra chirping from the Jr. Blues gave the SLUH team even more incentive to take the title.

"In the semifinal game they were behind our bench just talking a little bit and after we won that game we knew it was going to be a fun game in the finals and we brought it home," sophomore Nathan Gunn said.

"After one of our tries, they kicked one of my teammates in the face, and there's a picture of me giving giving a thumbs up to them. Even their coaches were chirping us, so it was just satisfying to know that we finally beat them and they can't really do anything and have our game back us up," sophomore captain David Kuebler said.

"I think that's kind of why we played so well. Because we're like, 'We're not gonna chirp 'em back, and we're gonna let them see what we can do', and we hit 'em back. So it was a good feeling," sophomore Archie Carruthers said.

As the back-to-back state champs and a national high school rugby finals appearance in 2021, SLUH has no plans to slow down their progression as a St. Louis rugby dynasty.

"I feel like it's been a dynasty long before I've been here and keeping the dynasty up is what my job is," Gunn said.

"I think that's the plan. Being a sophomore, we've got a couple of years to go, so definitely trying to continue that dynasty," Carruthers said.

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