Rugby made a family game
Matt Gad—Sports Writer
Senior Palmer Piana and his younger brother, Pierce Piana, a sophomore, have made playing rugby for the SCSU Black Attack a family affair. It is something they never even thought would ever happen.
The two never played on the same team growing up and the brothers went to separate high schools and also played different sports – Palmer was on the soccer team and Pierce played football.
Last year the brothers made being teammates a reality, when Palmer encouraged Pierce to join the Black Attack.
“I was gonna go to Western to play football but Palmer convinced me to come to Southern and play rugby, and my dad had a long history playing so I’ve been around it for a while, and I just made the decision to come play at Southern,” Pierce said. At the recent Beast of the East tournament, which the team won, Pierce came away with several tackles and two tries off what he described as “pretty decent runs.”
“Most people don’t come into college rugby knowing anything, so he might not from the beginning have known what to do, but [now] he’s always making the big tackles and running the ball hard,” Palmer said. “And it makes me proud to see that.”
There is a lot of natural chemistry between the two of them, but they said their head coach, Bob Chester, sees them just as teammates.
“We’re all just trying to get better at the sport,” Palmer said. “Coach does a good job helping us on an individual level but he recognizes and appreciates the fact that we’re related and playing together.”
While Palmer and Pierce are related, Pierce is just one of the new players on the squad that has been adjusting and trying to make an impact with the team this year.
Pierce said while the team is young, they all have fun working together throughout the season.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun,” he said. “We don’t always win games but it surely is a lot of fun playing them.”
Palmer sees that Pierce has brought a lot of value and hardwork to the team this year, something they will need and rely on this weekend while trying to qualify for the national tournament at their upcoming conference tournament.
“He said that Pierce’s performance at the Beast of the East might have been one of the best rugby performances he has ever seen from his younger brother.
“It was up there,” he said. “He is new to the sport but it definitely seems like everything is coming together and he was definitely a force out there; whenever Pierce was on the field no one wanted to run the ball because he had a way of punishing people. He was really more of a defensive player that weekend.
In addition to Palmer and Pierce Piana, there is a third family member they have on the team in their stepbrother Peter Woermer, which Palmer Piana said creates a complete dynamic on the pitch.
“We’re three brothers, that’s how I look at it, and having that dynamic is really good for the team because we’re [like] a glue and have good brother energy,” Palmer said. “I consider the whole team my brothers so to have some real brothers there is a good dynamic for the team.”
Beyond everything else, Pierce Palmer said he is just glad he is able to have players out there that he can trust in the game of rugby.
“It’s not so much of the chemistry, but it’s better to have that person I can always trust to run the ball or to guard the area,” he said. “It is more just like, trust in each other.”