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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Rugby, “America’s fastest growing sport,” has hit town with Miami Sharks

Miami Sharks have close connection to Key Biscayne, KB Rugby Rats Club.
Two players jump for the ball in a game between the Miami Sharks and the Seattle Seawolves on Mar. 11, 2024. Via Miami Sharks Press

On Feb. 8, 2023, “America’s fastest growing sport”, rugby, was announced to hit Miami in the form of the Miami Sharks. A few days later, Inter Miami FC welcomed the Sharks into their Major League of Rugby (MLR) 2024 season at the Sports Field at the Florida Blue Training Center. 

Today, the Sharks have come a long way since the kickoff of their inaugural match on Mar. 3 and are still in celebration after their first win against Anthem RC on Mar. 23. Making their way through the season with owners Ronaldo “Kony” Strazzolini, Alejandro Macfarlane, Marcos Galperin, and head coach José Pellicena, the team has brought excitement to the Miami rugby scene. The Sharks squad, consisting of 35 players of a variety of nationalities ranging from South Africa to Wales, represents the general makeup of diverse Miami, further resonating with the community. 

“We each bring our own little flair … way of playing, humor, which all combines and makes a really good team culture,” Former KB Rugby Rat and current wing for the Miami Sharks, Marcos Young, said.

This “community” is found not only in the stadium seats, but in our classrooms as well. Located minutes away from the home fields of the Key Biscayne Rugby Rats Club, MAST Academy is a large host of this passionate rugby community. Founded as a non-profit organization in 2008 after the Rugby World Cup in France, KB Rugby Rats Club has trained youth through volunteer coaches, creating in them a passion for the sport. 

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“I’m here because of the lessons they taught me…the respect, the enjoyment, the friendships,” Young said.

“I’ve played for about 4 years now. I started off with the Key Biscayne Rats… and now I’m playing [Division II] for UM. I got into it because of my dad…he’s been playing his whole life, so I grew up with rugby,” MAST junior Sabrina Laver said.

“I started playing rugby when I was five or six in the KB Rugby Rats. I’m still playing there,” MAST senior Cristobal Muñoz-Legarre said. 

In a similar way to how Inter Miami put the MLS under the spotlight in Miami, the Sharks have placed a sport that never found fame in the United States until the 20th century in the limelight. 

“Its good that we’ve been bringing out a lot of fans to watch and we’ve been building a community. People are looking for a team to support and having a team now in Miami makes them feel like there’s something to look up to,” Young said. 

“I think that Miami getting with the times is awesome. I think it has to do a lot with the very Latin American or Argentine influence here in Miami, so I’m expecting it to be a pretty good team…high quality…talent,” Laver said. For rugbiers like Laver, this team has created a link between their sport and their city, adding to their passion.

“My favorite thing…is how much of a team sport it really is. Every player has a role and if they don’t complete that role the whole system doesn’t work. I’ve always liked that about it. It’s very fun…it gets your heart beating really fast,” Muñoz-Legarre said, “One of my idols on the team is Tomás Cubelli who’s a former Puma and he’s a beast…a great overall player”.

In addition, the Sharks have focused on becoming a part of the community, especially when being involved with the youth of Miami.

“I know some of the players mainly because I’ve seen them around in the club, [KB Rats], like Marcos Young. Now they come to our trainings and they give us a hand with the technical stuff,”  Muñoz-Legarre said. As the Sharks get ready for their seventh match on Apr. 20, their fans are getting ready for them. 

“I know they created this “Barra Brava” for the team, which is where all the kids go and the ones that want to party and they made a chat for it, so we’re for sure going to try and go to that section and have some fun and root for the team,” Muñoz-Legarre said.

“We love La Barra Brava. [But] I think we also have to keep in mind that we are still playing Rugby,” Young said. “So we chant, we jump, we enjoy our team, [but] we also have to be respectful of the other team. So it should be more about singing about us than singing against the other guys. It’s important that we see keep in mind the values of the sport”.

New to the MLR, winning games will be difficult for the Sharks and the outcome of the season is still to be determined.

“As a beginner team you are not looking for results, you’re looking for improvement: every game getting a bit better, players showing off a bit more and increasing their stats or creating more of a team,” Laver said.

“It’s definitely a growing season, but I think we still have a lot to show,” Young said. “We’re growing every game, so I think we’re in a good path. We have to maintain our faith in the guy next to us and we’ll have a good year”.

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About the Contributor
Mercedes Halliburton
Mercedes Halliburton, Managing Editor
Mercedes Halliburton is a senior at MAST Academy. She is in her fourth year at the school, arriving in 2019 from St. Theresa Catholic School. Halliburton enjoys MAST more than her previous school because she believes that there is more freedom. Halliburton likes MAST because she enjoys swimming and water. She also enjoys reading and writing, saying that it is her favorite subject. Her least favorite subject is math, and her hardest year was junior year. She doesn’t have a least favorite teacher and she likes most of the teachers. She also likes MAST because it has a nice view and is so close to the beach. Even though MAST is fun, Halliburton claims it is also a challenging school with many hard classes.
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