BY DEREK CONSTABLE
Not every sport in Ballston Spa takes place at the high school or has the name Scotties attached to it. Many of the area’s up and coming athletes have found other outlets for competing, like rowing, the rodeo and now even rugby.
For Pete Mody, a former English teacher with the Ballston Spa Central School District, it’s been six years since he helped found a rugby program for Saratoga County and Ballston Spa Middle School. Mody himself played football for Union College in his younger years, but after suffering a knee injury he switched sports to keep himself active. In the process he discovered a love for a new game he knew little about.
“Most people look at rugby and see the lack of pads and think that it’s a really tough sport on your body, but for the most part it’s not,” Mody said.
As a player-coach for the Saratoga Stampede, he helped the program improve a little each year and encouraged students from his school’s modified rugby team to join the Stampede once they got a good grip on the rules. Students like Nick DeFilippo were eager to follow Mody onto the field and help the team be competitive. DeFilippo was the youngest of all the ruggers during the team’s inaugural season and also the team’s leading scorer with more than a dozen tries in his first season.
The Stampede won the New England Rugby Football League Division III Championship in 2010. Since then Mody has turned his attention to a new rugby club, the Saratoga Mustangs. The squad is for boys 19-and-under and competes in the Capital District Youth Rugby League. These ruggers, like his former students at Ballston Spa, are still learning the sport from the ground up and hopefully will develop a lifelong appreciation for the sport, as Mody did.
“Rugby is a highly social event,” Mody said. “Before and after halftime you’ll have people laughing and having a good time. We plan on families coming out and things like that.”
His Mustangs are currently undefeated after a big win over the Schenectady Chargers to open the season on April 6. The Mustangs defeated their division rivals 32-10 at Nathaniel Cole Park after getting out in front with a 12-7 lead in the first half and outscoring the Chargers 20-3 in the second half.
Four Mustangs crossed the goal line with the ball that day, including Matt Cummings, David Kramer, Randy Bertrand and Nate Sawyer (twice). It was a dominant performance for the local ruggers and a huge motivator to start the season on a high note.
The next game for Mody’s Mustangs is April 29 at home against Kingston Rugby, a team which hasn’t played thus far this season but who is scheduled to play each of the next three weekends. The Mustangs should be confident taking the field undefeated, especially coming off such a big win. But with so many weeks between games Kingston could steal their momentum should they come to Shenantaha Creek Park the last Sunday of the month with two consecutive wins.