FRISCO, Colo. (CBS4) – When thinking of sports in Summit County certainly there’s skiing, snowboarding or even biking, but it’s also home to one of the most dominant high school programs in the state — a sport many probably didn’t even know exists.

“I’ve definitely had people been like, ‘There’s such thing as girls’ rugby?’ “ Summit High School girls’ rugby team captain Morgan Courtney said.

As they practice in the shadows of 12,000-foot peaks, girls’ rugby is the biggest sport at Summit High.

“Girls’ aren’t supposed to be vicious, but we can get down and dirty.” Courtney said.

The school has a pedigree of success dating back to the late 1990s.

“We’ve been pretty successful.” Courtney said.

Since then coach Karl Barth has won 10 state championships, including the last six in a row. They’ve even received national accolades.

“We’ve been ranked number one (nationally) three times,” Barth said,

Thirty-six girls have been All-Americans or played for the U.S. national team at some level, even sending some girls on to college with scholarships, which is remarkable when considering the fact women’s rugby isn’t an NCAA sport.

“The culture is amazing,” Barth said. “I think we have a 40-game home winning streak, and it’s in the 50s for Colorado, maybe 60s, I don’t know. So there’s pressure on the team because no one wants to be the ones who lose that first game.”

“We’re successful, not only in our progress in winning, but we’re successful in our pride in rugby,” Courtney said. “We don’t just go out to win, we try and play good rugby.”

Summit High School rugby (credit: CBS)

Summit High School rugby (credit: CBS)

“We can give them the ball a lot and say, ‘Run over as many people as you can.’ But that isn’t the game of rugby,” Barth said. “We want to play the perfect game of rugby, minimalist tackles – fast, fast, fast; moving the ball, not dropping it. So we strive for that.”

Barth said the successful program lasting a decade and a half is all up to his players.

“Our veteran players, those All-American type players, those national team players have never once worried about teaching those young freshman how to play,” Barth said. “I think we pride ourselves more on what this has brought to the school in the development of young women and sort of the culture that’s in the school.”

Many high schools don’t even offer rugby. Some schools get together to form one team. Summit High will also go to other states to find stiffer competition.


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