Boys’ varsity rugby ranks No. seven in the North Coast, continues to climb


Olivia Brekhus

Since 1980, the Marin Highlanders Rugby Club has attracted students to the sport with high-intensity training, a tight team dynamic and an opportunity to develop leadership skills. The sport is often popular among athletes that also play football because the vigorous training keeps players in shape for the season, as well as improves tackling and fitness which are beneficial skills.

Junior Nick Janowsky has been playing rugby and football since third grade. In order to stay fit, he plays both sports each year.  

The boys’ varsity team consists of 35 players this season, and 15 players are on the field for each 80-minute game. The Marin Highlanders have already played a couple scrimmages and four games vs. Bishop O’Dowd, Silicon Valley, Lamorinda and Pleasanton. In addition, they recently competed in a tournament in Los Angeles, where they beat some of the best teams in the nation, such as the No. 15, Snow Canyon, and the No. 12, Belmont Shores, ranked teams. According to Norcal Rugby, Marin Highlanders are currently ranked numberNo. seven in the North Coast and numberNo. 42 in the nation.

In the past the Marin Highlanders have ranked in the top 50, however, Janowsky hopes to remain ranked within the top 15 teams in the nation. He believes that due to the dominant skill level of the team this year, their ranking could drastically improve, especially with the strong coaching skills of head coach.

Echoing this sentiment is head coach Sean Silvera, parent to Riley Silvera, a senior at Terra Linda High School who also plays on the team. Sean believes that the team is filled with strong athletes and they should be setting lofty goals. According to Janowsky, Sean does an excellent job handling the wide range of skill on the team.

“The thing about rugby is that you have a lot of guys like us who have played for eight to 10 years and then you also have a lot of guys [that] are just picking it up in high school. So we have to get everyone on the team to a level that is good enough to play and compete against really good teams,” Janowsky said.

Sean explained that the social aspect of the team is really strong, enabling the boys’ ability to support one another.

“The difference between a good player and a great player is [that] a great player makes other people great. If you are already good, then take someone else along with you and help them out, lead by example and help the guys who are new become better,” Sean said.

In order to accommodate everyone’s skill level, the practices consist of basic training skills as well as developing the ability to play technically.

“We work on a lot of tackling and a lot of passing, because rugby is about timing. You are working with people who you play with on the field in a game, so it is about getting the timing down and getting to know each other better so that you can work together better in a game,” Janowsky said.

The relationship of the team is one of the reasons many boys join the league, according to Janowsky. Senior Cole Rehm said that his team motivates him to stay focused and take on leadership roles throughout the season.

“The relationship of the players on the team is one of the main reasons I have played throughout high school. The bond between the players is like no other sport I’ve played,” Rehm said.

Sean explained that the talent on the team is better than it has been in past years. According to Rehm, the energy from everyone is what makes the game exciting and makes the team successful.

The boys practice three days a week, at both Hall Middle School and College of Marin. For more information on the teams’ schedule check the Marin Highlanders’ website at