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Passion for rugby leads teen to Mexico City

October 7, 2018

HOUMA, La. (AP) — Plenty of high school students from the area head to Mexico for their senior trips at the end of each school year.

But for one local teen, his experience in Mexico over this past summer didn’t feature relaxing on a beach in Cozumel or Cancun.

Instead, Reece Guidry was playing rugby in Mexico City.

Guidry, now a 5-foot-10, 235-pound senior football player at Central Lafourche High School, was selected to compete in an international rugby competition as part of the Under 19 USA South Panthers.

He was introduced to rugby by his former youth football coach Gregg Dinicola a few years back.

“Coach Gregg always played rugby and still does and used to bring the ball out to practice and we would always throw it around,” Guidry said. “One day we were at his house watching an LSU game and we asked if we can start a team. That’s how the Bayou Hurricanes started. We got a team together in 2014 and won the state championship in 2015.”

Guidry, who plays offensive line in football, plays up-front rugby positions prop or hooker.

“You have three front rows, the scrum,” Guidry said. “It’s eight big guys up front, like the offensive and defensive lines in football. They are front row positions. The prop holds up the hooker and you just keep pushing. They call us the big ugly guys.”

Unlike in football, Guidry said there are very few breaks in rugby.

“The main difference to me is the fitness,” Guidry said. “In football you have breaks in between each play. In rugby, the game keeps going. The level of fatigue is very different.”

It was through his play with the Hurricanes and at national regional tournament with a group of Louisiana all-stars that Guidry was picked to play for the Panthers in Mexico.

“I played some of my best rugby at those regional tournaments,” Guidry said. “Some of the USA coaches were there and that is how I was selected to play for the USA team.”

Guidry’s mother Sandy said her son was overwhelmed when he found out he was selected to the USA South team.

“He was so excited when he got chosen that he called me up crying,” Sandy said. “It was fabulous. It was phenomenal that he got selected.”

While in Mexico, Guidry and the Panthers placed second in the tournament behind the host country.

The tournament also featured teams from the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. While Guidry said he enjoyed the trip to Mexico he also noticed some major cultural differences.

“The roads, the driving, the food, they were all different,” Guidry said. “They didn’t have washers and dryers. We had to wash and dry our uniforms by hand. The technology is not as up to date as it is here.”

While there are some colleges that offer rugby scholarships, many other colleges have club teams.

Guidry said he hopes to continue playing the sport in college in some capacity following his senior year at Central Lafourche.

“Rugby in college is growing, but it’s not really that big yet,” Guidry said. “I will just wait and see where it takes me.”

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Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com

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