ECLIPSE AWARDS, 7pm, Friday, June 4 at Paseo Highland Park east soccer field
Eclipse Rugby was co-founded in the summer of 2016 by Sam Kelly, Mike Frugone and Chris Everett. Sam was the founder of the North Valley Scorpions youth rugby club five years earlier in the summer of 2011. After five years, Sam was frustrated with the direction of youth rugby and decided to leave it all behind. Mike and Chris were new parents at North Valley, but did not live in the club's immediate area. They were also not keen on the direction of the club and worked with Sam to start a new club closer to where they lived.
Eclipse started with only 5-6 kids at the first few practices in the Fall of 2016, but had 12 kids registered by the end of the Spring 2017 season and combined with other new clubs to fill teams. Despite being a new club, our Under-10 touch team went undefeated on the season, but lost a close match in the semifinal and finished 3rd.
The 2nd year saw our player numbers nearly double, despite losing 6 players from the prior year. Our already solid Under-10 team grew, strengthened and returned to dominance. We also fielded a full tackle team at that age, who also dominated, despite most being new to rugby. But like the touch team the year before, the tackle team lost an OT match in the final by just one score.
We more than doubled our Under-12 and Under-14 players, but still had to merge with another club to fill teams. However, combined, we had enough for our own Under-14 touch rugby team, who only had a draw and one win in regular season play, but pulled off a miracle win in the semifinal to reach the championship. They lost that match, but secured our second runner-up trophy, 3rd trophy overall, for the season.
Our 3rd year (pics and write-up coming soon) saw us meet our minimum numbers goal for the first time. We grew to 25 players, added our own full U-12 team, increased our U14 numbers, and added 2 high players for the first time. Our U14 and HS players ran with Arrowhead and had successful games and experiences. Our U12 was winless, but out of 9 players, 7 were rookies. The icing on the cake was our U10, who got the monkey off their backs and won the league U10 tackle championship.
Seven of our 12 players were completely new to rugby, yet our Under-10 Touch Rugby team went undefeated in regular season play and only lost their semifinal match when our top scorer was out of town. Even though we didn't field a full Under-12 team, our players served as highlight reel stars on the team they merged with, who swept through and won the Under-12 division-2 season.
Despite quick success and awesome players, we already had an uphill battle before the next year. After the season ended, we lost 6 of these players almost immediately - all very talented. Two moved out of state, two focused on other interests, and two were bothers helping us from Flagstaff who didn't have a youth team. The older brother moved up to HS rugby, so the younger brother focused on flag football. A very tough loss to incur.
Despite losing half of our players from the prior year, we picked up quite a few new and talented players in the Fall of 2017. Our Under-10s fielded full teams in both Tackle and Touch. They dominated regular season play going undefeated in both codes, suffered their only loss in the Tackle final, in OT, but won the Touch final handily over the same team.
We nearly had a full Under-12 team and picked up a couple new Under-14 boys, but still had to merge with other clubs for Tackle games. However, the two age groups combined for a solid U14 Touch team that surprised the entire division by the end of the season, despite having only three players with prior rugby experience. They nicely capped an already amazing season by their younger clubmates.