Snow Canyon girls’ rugby places 3rd in nationals; gun raffle controversy perpetuates fundraisers

The Snow Canyon Lady Warriors Rugby team, St. George, Utah, May 20, 2013| Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Snow Canyon Lady Warriors Rugby team returned home Monday evening after a trip to the 2013 National High School Rugby Girls Championships in Wisconsin held May 17-19. Returning with them was their ranking: No. 3 in the nation for their division.

“They played their hearts out,” Head Coach Cathy Hasfurther said. “It (was) a great experience.”

The girl’s team has only been in existence for three years now, and “they’re third in the nation,” she said.

Split into two divisions of eight teams each, a total of 16 teams competed in the national tournament. Snow Canyon played in Division 2.

Earlier this month the Lady Warriors’ also took second place in the state in their division.

(Story continues below)

The Snow Canyon Lady Warriors Rugby team, St. George, Utah, May 20, 2013| Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
The Snow Canyon Lady Warriors Rugby team, St. George, Utah, May 20, 2013| Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Love of the game

The sigh speaks for itself, St. George, Utah, May 20, 2013| Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
The sign speaks for itself, St. George, Utah, May 20, 2013| Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“The girls love (the game),” said Gali Conley, Snow Canyon High School vice principal. Conley, who also has a son on the boys’ varsity rugby team, said the sport has become quite popular in Southern Utah high schools and across the state.  “It’s an amazing game.”

Rugby itself has been described as a “hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.” On the surface the game may look rather brutal as the players go onto the field with minimal padding and proceed to smash into each other over a game. Casual observers may draw comparisons to football or hockey with how physical the game can get. While it is a physical sport, Conley said there were very explicit rules concerning how individuals may be tackled. Take a player down the wrong way, and you’ll either be given a warning by the referee or kicked out of the game altogether.

“(The coaches) teach you how to hit and how to fall,” Conley said. He then praised the coaches of both the boys’ and girls’ rugby teams for their training.

He also said rugby has no exceptions on size, as the smallest players also tend to be the quickest – and in a game of constant running and very few time-outs, it counts. Conley said jokingly that when people first see the Snow Canyon rugby teams, they immediately think the smaller, skinnier players will be massacred by the larger players of the other team. Nothing could be further from the truth, he said.

Trophy from the 2013 National High School Girls’ Rugby Championship, St. George, Utah, May 20, 2013| Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Trophy from the 2013 National High School Girls’ Rugby Championship, St. George, Utah, May 20, 2013| Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

As for it being a “hooligan’s game played by gentlemen,” examples of “civilized” conduct by the players and coaches can be seen in how they deal with the referees. The only people allowed to speak to the referees are the team captains and the coaches, and they have to address the referees by “sir.”

At the end of each game, the opposing teams also bow to each other and to the families and fans in the bleachers.

Community support after gun raffle incident

Though affiliated with Snow Canyon High School, the rugby team is not an officially sanctioned school team, but rather is a “club team.” Rugby has yet to be recognized among the official canon of high school sports like football or basketball, and therefore doesn’t receive funding through the school. As a semi-independent club, the team has to raise money on its own in order to go to state and national-level tournaments.

“They don’t get all the extra stuff that regular sports do,” Conley said.

The teams needed to raise around $16,000 in order to get themselves to Wisconsin. So the club began to put it out in the community they were raising money. On April 27 a bake sale was held on Sunset Boulevard that also included a raffle for a rifle.

The gun raffle was subsequently shut down after Dorothy Engelman, of St. George, contacted the Washington County School District and media outlets over the matter.

“We’re selling cupcakes and guns to raise money for our kids?” Engelman said.

The gun raffle was a put on by a parent of one of the rugby players, Hasfurther said. None of the coaches had any idea about the raffle until after the fact. Money raised from the gun raffle was also returned to those who wanted refunds.

Despite some initially negative responses, Conley said, things soon turned around. The media frenzy triggered by the gun raffle put the spotlight on the team’s need to reach nationals.

“Good things came out of it,” Conley said.

Jon Smith (left) and Murphy (right) of Mornings with Jon Smith and Murphy on KZHK 95.9 FM, St. George, Utah, May 18, 2013| Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Jon Smith (left) and Murphy (right) of Mornings with Jon Smith and Murphy on KZHK 95.9 FM, St. George, Utah, May 17, 2013| Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

One example of community support came from a local radio station where disc jockeys held a gun auction to help replace money lost from the original gun raffle.

“We did not talk to the school district; we did not talk to the school; we did not talk to the team; we did not talk to the coach,” said Jon Smith, one of the host of 95.9 FM The Hawk’s “Jon Smith and Murphy” morning show. “We did this all on our own.”

“The community has supported (the auction) 100 percent,” Murphy said.

The auction, which was held on Friday, consisted of a Glock 27 .40 caliber handgun donated by Rowdy’s Range and Shooting Supply, and 250 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition from the Western Arms and Ammo Company – at least, that was on the table at the beginning of the auction when it started at 6 a.m.

As the morning progressed, other local companies donated $300 worth of ink for tattoos, a paint job for a standard size bedroom, and a tire service check. Western Arms and Ammo then made an additional donation of 250 rounds each of .223 and .9 mm caliber ammunition to be included with the Glock 27 pistol to be auctioned.

The auction ended at 10 a.m. with the pistol and ammunition bringing in a winning bid of $1,500. Overall, the additional items and individual donations to the girls’ rugby team came to just over $2,000.

Donations continued throughout the day. On Monday, Smith said the total amount raised was just under $2,500.

“The community really stepped up,” Hasfurther said.

Peggy Proffit, mother of team forward Meagan Proffit, said, “It restores your faith in humanity.”

Ed. Note:  Dorothy Engelman, referenced in the report, serves as chair of the Washington County Democratic Party. She expressed her protest in this context individually and said it was not in her capacity as chair of the party.

Email: m[email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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  • Clown on radio May 21, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Jon Smith is my reason for no longer listening to 95.9. I find his behavior as extremely clownish and as trying too hard to be funny. When he was DJ on other stations, I switched away from those stations as well. I think he needs to quit “trying” to be funny. Save the clown behavior for the circus.

  • Clown on radio May 21, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Personally, If I find it rather gauche that a school district that recently had two teenager suicides (guns) would have a gun auction. Real sensitive! Not!

    • Just saying May 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

      You probably should have read the article before replying. The gun raffle never was affiliated with the school district.

    • Rachel May 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you for clouding over the real issue with the suicides and blame it solely on the guns. Lets not talk about the mental issues and needs that need to be addressed and not swept under the rug in this country. Thank you for not bringing up the bullying problem, nor the way society portrays depression, anxiety, and other mental issues as a weakness.

      The point of the matter is that, whether or not those poor teens had had access to a gun or not, they probably would have found a way to commit suicide. I feel for them and for their families. What needs to come from these incidents and others all over the country is a revamp of mental health care and research and a rebranding of the public’s view on mental illness.

  • Jon Smith May 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I’ll have you know that I hate the circus… So there.

  • optimismalways May 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

    One of the many wonderful things in life is the differences of opinion and thought people have. I think it was FANTASTIC of Jon Smith and the Hawk station to stick up for these girls and help them, when so many others would not, merely because they don’t want to deal with the potential backlash by ignorant and intrusive people, such as yourself “Clown on Radio”. Just because you personally disagree with something or someone doesn’t give you the right to force your beliefs on anyone else, just as you would not wish others’ beliefs forced upon you. My opinion: if it has NOTHING to do with you and won’t be affecting you, stay out of it. Simple as that. Don’t stick your nose into business that has nothing to do with you 🙂

    • rocketgirliutah May 21, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Very well said!!!

    • Clown On Radio May 21, 2013 at 11:57 am

      I have a right to voice my opinion just as you have a right to voice you. That is the wonderful thing about this country (well, maybe not existent in closed-minded burgs), that people can enjoy the freedom of speech and speak their opinion.

      I know. If you don’t like it here, you can leave.

      BTW, what kind of guns were auctioned? Ones that are popular with the many local gun related suicides? Apparently, those suicides indicate people have a different train of thought, but feel nobody wants to listen to them (shut up, be like everyone else and do what you’re told?)

  • rocketgirliutah May 21, 2013 at 10:45 am

    You go Jon Smith and Murphy !!!!!\

  • Kristie May 21, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Way to go St. George, for pulling together as a community, and helping the rugby team GET to Nationals! It is hard, fundraising especially when you need to come up with that much money ( it can’t always be achieved by selling cupcakes). Congrats to the Lady Warriors on their win!

  • Glen F. May 21, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Hopefully the girls learned that the general public support them even when those are more interest in using them for political posturing.

    Granted you say she was acting as a private citizen but she used her media contact to make it an issue.

    • No more Clown On Radio May 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      That was her right to do so. Are you wanting to deny someone his/her First Amendment Right? You should be in a communist nation then.

      • Glen F. May 21, 2013 at 4:27 pm

        She has every right to say what she wants like you or I. However having said that do you or I have the same connections to the various outlets in the press? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say no.

  • Coffeelarge May 21, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Jon Smith (and Murphy) are hilarious! Your sense of humor must really be lacking to state otherwise. I thought the gun auction was a marvelous idea and the fact that The Hawk was behind it was very appropriate.

    Leave it to some local Democrat to complain about people trying to do something positive for the youth. Geeze almighty people. . . .

    • No more Clown On Radio May 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      $2,000 is very little contribution for a city the size of St George. I think a parent would have been willing to contribute that much alone.

      • Wondering May 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm

        So tell us, No more Clown, just how much did YOU contribute?

        • NMCOR May 21, 2013 at 8:10 pm

          Nothing. Not my kids, not my school district, not my community, not anyone I know… and for a community that is rumored to be standoffish to “outsiders”? No way. However, I have contributed anywhere from $25 to $250 to help kids of relatives and friends, depending on the situation. Had it been my kids going to Nationals? You’d better believe I’d find a way to finance his/her way, because as a parent, it is my responsibility, not the government’s nor anybody else.

          However in my fundraiser experiences, I have contributed countless hours for organizations to raise thousands of dollars or to help in the success of an event. Can those parents of those kids say the same?

          Why does that same community struggle with getting parents to help with Boy Scouts?

          • Blart May 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm

            Struggling to help with scouting?? No mystery there, the scouting thing has kind of run it’s course. It’s not what it used to be for the kids. Way too many other things to be interested and involved in. Parents are kind of burned out by the program too.

      • Jon Smith May 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm

        And how much did you donate?

        • NMCOR May 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm

          Nothing. They’re not my kids, not my school district, not an organization nor community of which I’m part of and nor did it involve anybody I know. But in the past, for relatives and for friends, I’ve donated anywhere from $25 to $250 depending on the person and situation. However, for organizational fund raising events, more than I can remember, I’ve donated countless hours of work plus to help raise thousands of dollars. Had it been my kid, though, I could have found a way to round up $1,000 for the trip. Afterall, isn’t it my responsibility to pay my own kid’s way and not the government’s or somebody else?

          How do you raise money? Bake sales, yard sales (donations), car washes and even just basic solicitation for money. Have you ever held a turkey shoot? Get members of the organization involved, your community, your friends and your family.

  • DoubleTap May 21, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Just keep in mind that the Washington County Democrats WILL be having fundraisers also in the future. Along with recruitment drives and the such. People in the community have long memories. Using a team of athletes for political posturing and agendas DOES have consequences. Dorothy Engelman used her extensive liberal media contacts to further her own political ambitions….all at the cost of this outstanding Rugby Team. Congrats girls…job well done.

    • Ken May 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Good hell is that all you got? Acting like a third grader to make totally asinine threats. If your such a power player use your real name include your address and phone number. Your nothing more then a keyboard cowboy that spouts complete crap! So enough talk speak up lout!

      • I love Ken May 21, 2013 at 10:29 pm

        Really Ken? Called this person a third grader when you can’t even spell like one? You’re, not your. Twice. And the grammar. Wow. By the way, where’s YOUR address and phone number, dolt?

  • Murphy May 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Go us!

  • Irene Peters May 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    The whole point was raising money so these girls could go to the tournament. It’s awesome that they made it and did so well. Thanks Rowdy’s Range and 95.9 for going the extra mile to help them. It was ridiculous that the issue became so political.

  • zachary k. May 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    “clown” way to turn somethin positive into something negative. Yrr a joke.

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