Rocket Rugby Club aims to generate more interest in sport here in ‘Boro

Three sophomores play on Hudson championship team


Darren Ekron

Sophomore Jon Ekron, member of the Hudson Rugby Club, plays in the Midwest Rugby Tournament in Elkhart, Indiana, the weekend of May 6-7.

Muskan Labbe, Reporter

Rocket Rugby Club is hoping to recruit more Streetsboro players and eventually become a new sport here at SHS. Three sophomores are already involved and currently playing with a Hudson team: Justin Brugman, Jon Ekron and Jeremy Taylor.

Ekron has been playing rugby since he was in eighth grade. “My dad was a big role in encouraging me to play. He played as a kid, and peaked an interest, and encouraged me to try it out,” he said. 

His mom, Natalie Ekron, teaches at the middle school and has been helping promote the rugby club here in Streetsboro. She explained how Jon Ekron started out with the Hudson Middle School Rugby Club. After that first season, he and Brugman were selected by The Cleveland Rugby Club Team, to play in a national tournament. They finished as runners-up in the tournament. 

Last year, Ekron played on the Walsh Jesuit High School team that won the state rugby championship.

But Walsh graduated 15 seniors last year, Natalie Ekron added, so Streetsboro’s sophomores decided to make the move to play for Hudson High School’s Rugby Club.

Taylor has been involved with the sport for three years. He said he was encouraged to play by his coach, Sam Lewis, a chiropractor here in Streetsboro. 

“I always played lineman in football when I was a kid,” Taylor explained, “and Doc Sam told me that I will be able to run the ball. I played rugby as soon as I heard that. I just tried, and ever since, I fell in love with the game.”

Sophomore Justin Brugman plays at the Midwest Rugby Tournament in Elkhart, Indiana with the Hudson Rugby Club. (Darren Ekron)

Brugman has been playing the sport for three years. “I have known my coach since I was a little kid,” he said, “and a few of my friends told me to try it back in eighth grade.”

Interest in the sport here can be traced back to Jon’s dad, Darren Ekron, who is from South Africa. Rugby is a big sport in South Africa, his wife explained, and Darren Ekron played competitively there in high school.

Most students who play rugby have come from sports like football and wrestling. It is similar to football in that both sports involve tackling the opposing team and running with the ball.

“In rugby, you don’t have any pads…so you’re hitting someone with no protection to your body,” Taylor explained. “The ball can also only go backwards and can’t be thrown forwards like a football. There’s also something called a scrum, when the two teams and their biggest come together and just push against each other.”

Fifteen players can play in a rugby game, while football involves 11.

“There is lots of little details that can make or break the outcome of a game,” Jon Ekron said. “Also, it is very important the team can work together, because unlike other sports, it is hard for one person to carry a team.” 

Ekron said the hope is that bringing rugby to Streetsboro will get students and athletes excited about a new experience. 

“I think if it was more known, it could be very popular among the students, as games can be a very exciting environment, much like football games,” Jon Ekron said. 

The Hudson team’s regular season wrapped up May 11. They finished undefeated at 11-0 and are headed to states once again. 

To learn more about the game or how to get involved, contact Natalie or Darren Ekron, or any of the players.