BERWYN — The Morton rugby program is established enough that coach Aaron Sweeney no longer has to worry about getting numbers for the team.
That’s not to say he doesn’t still have plenty of other things to worry about.
More than 100 kids have been trying out in recent years and they can only keep 60. This year marked the fifth year there have been cuts. Of course, having to manage 60 kids creates different issues.
“If you talk to other coaches in our league the problems they’re dealing with is getting kids interested,” Sweeney said. “Our issues are with logistics.
“We can’t necessarily dress every kid for every away match. You can’t fit everybody in the weight room at the same time.”
The program hit its 10-year anniversary and has grown since Sweeney helped start it in 2003. They had 19 kids that first year, a far cry from what can be seen now. The sprawling rugby practices at Morton West look the part of a mainstream sport.
“I don’t worry about the numbers issues,” Sweeney said. “It is nice to not have to worry about that.”
This season the Mustangs are trying to improve on last year’s runner-up finish. Morton lost to Brother Rice in the state final, but has a handful of key returners that should carry the team to more success this year.
Seniors Isaias Delgado, Fabian Naranjo, Josue Saucedo, Raul Aceves and Charlie Guzman have all been with the program for four years. While Morton has a lot of players, not all of them have been with the program all four years like that group has.
“With a lot of rugby programs you get kids that come out and they don’t know about it,” Sweeney said. “They come in for maybe two or three years. When you get four years you can really build on the rugby knowledge.”
Sweeney noted that rugby isn’t like football where incoming freshman know what a post route is and know the basics of the sport. Almost none of the rugby players have any playing experience prior to joining the club. Some feeder programs have cropped up in the Berwyn-Cicero area at churches, but Sweeney and the Mustangs are starting from scratch with most players.
The Mustangs’ next game is Thursday at Neuqua Valley.