Carmel girls win Rugby Indiana 7s state title


The Carmel High School girls rugby team has come a long way in a hurry.

“I would say 80 percent of my team never saw a rugby ball before the spring season,” Carmel coach Kelly Romano said. “This season for 7s, I would say 60 percent had never seen a rugby ball before the season.”

The Carmel girls beat Fort Wayne Carroll 24-22 in the Rugby Indiana Fall 7s state championship Oct. 10 in Elkhart. Seven players are on each side during the game compared to the 15 players on each side in the spring season.

“I’m excited about the turnout and the enthusiasm for rugby,” Romano said. “Carmel is the only city in the state that has action for second-grade girls through 12th-grade girls to have access to rugby.”

Romano had coached second- to fourth grade coed flag rugby and a fifth- and sixth-grade coed tackle team in the Carmel Dads’ Club. For seventh and eighth grade, the club has separate boys and girls teams. In 2019, Carmel started an all-girls team for seventh- and eighth-graders, and Romano served as coach. Romano has a daughter, Giabella, who is on the eighth-grade team, and her son, Paolo, is a sophomore on the boys high school team.

In the spring, Romano coached both the Carmel seventh- and eighth-grade girls and the high school team. Both teams got second place in the Rugby Indiana state tournament for 15 players. The high school 15s team, which included Westfield players, lost to Fort Wayne Carroll in the championship.

Romano played rugby at Illinois State and Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia. She also played with the University of Queens in New Zealand.