High Schoolers Blaze Trail on Rugby Pitch

In a sport known for fierce combat, athletes on two Washington, DC, high-school rugby teams are fast friends because neither was "supposed" to be playing.

"I love the sport," said Anthony Lewis, a student at Hyde Leadership Public Charter School. "It's the best sport ever, I think."

On one team are the boys from Hyde, an inner city school. Ten years ago, Hyde became the nation's first all black high-school rugby team despite the ugly stereotypes they battled along the way, CBS News Correspondent Jeff Glor reports.

"Like all colored children is bad, they'll rob you, want to fight," Lewis said about the stereotypes. "The main thing we focus on doing is actually proving them wrong."

So last year when the Model Secondary School for the Deaf was looking to start its own rugby team, the school found the perfect inspiration.

"We both face a lot of stereotypes because we're African-American and because they're deaf," said Hyde student Salim Lancaster. "People think there's a difference. They're similar kids just like us. The only thing is they can't really hear."

From the scrum to the ruck to the maul, the Hyde boys taught the Model boys a new sport and a few life lessons, too.

"I feel there's a brotherhood there," Model student Vanney Boun-Iamb said through an interpreter. "Sometimes communication is difficult, but we work out gestures, and we kind of communicate as well. It works out."

"In the past, they thought deaf people couldn't do it," Model student Mark Bermudez said through an interpreter. "Now they know they can."

The kids from Model rugby took to the sport so quickly that a game was scheduled against Hyde last year. Guess who won?

Model. The students beat the teachers.

Then, in a long awaited rematch this month, Hyde won though it's pretty tough to say anyone actually lost.

"If I'm going to lose to anybody, I'd love to lose to Model," Hyde coach Tal Bayer said.

Now comes another team that's fighting against the odds to play. This season the Model school girls became the first female deaf rugby team in the nation, and they think they can beat the boys.

"With our strategy, I think we should definitely do that," an athlete on the girls' team said through an interpreter.

It's a reminder that rugby is about a lot more than knocking people down; it's about bringing people up.

  • Jeff Glor

    Jeff Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the "CBS Evening News" in January 2012 and Special Correspondent for "CBS This Morning" in November 2011.