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February 16, 2013

Rugby a true love of Smerczynski's

Pat Smerczynski of Topsfield has been named captain of the University of Vermont rugby team. The junior, who played football and rugby at St. John’s Prep, will serve as captain for the spring session and also next year.

He recently switched from flanker — the position he played all through high school on two state and one New England championship teams — to a winger on the outside.

Former Prep teammates Faxon Michaud of Marblehead and Derek McDonald of Georgetown also play for the Catamounts.

“I had a lot of injuries, which is the reason for the (position) change,” said Smerczynski, an ecological agriculture and forestry major. “In the fall I started out with an ankle injury, and then suffered a concussion in practice. It happened around the middle of October and I wasn’t able to come back for the rest of the season.

“Playing outside on the wing will reduce the chances of another concussion; once you get one you are more apt to have others. I’m really looking forward to playing again, and we’ve already been practicing on our indoor turf.”

Fall is the main season for rugby at the college level, and depending on how well the team does determines whether an invitation will be earned to the nationals in the spring.

“The year before I came to UVM the team went to nationals (reaching the semifinals), but we haven’t done it since,” said Smerczynski. “I’m hoping we can get there again before I graduate.

“In the fall we play everybody in our league, and based on the record have a chance to get to the playoffs. If you win your bracket, you advance to nationals. In the spring we play all the local teams around and hope to go to the Beast of The East Tournament.”

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