Bronco rugby club gains large presence from nationally ranked high school club

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The Granite Bay Rugby Club (GBR) is a nationwide powerhouse that has launched many young men into objectively successful careers in the sport. Now,  Bryce Van Order, Bennet Mantz, Jacob Shafer, Douglas Barnes, Kyle Curry, Matt Karp and Sam Portello have left their Granite Bay den and joined the herd in playing for the Boise State club rugby team.

Following a year in which the high school team was ranked number one in the nation for a majority of the time, 18 Grizzlies went on to play rugby at the next level, with five ending up at Boise State. 

However, these five Grizzlie teammates were not coming alone. There have been four other GBR players that have come to Boise State to play Rugby — Kyle Curry, a sophomore, being one of them.

“What drew me to the Boise program was the camaraderie the team had with each other,” Curry said.

“(Having GBR athletes on the team) makes it easier to gel and gain chemistry with [the]team when you already know some people going into the season,” 

This added benefit of playing together, however, doesn’t cloud their view of what’s important.  

“The chemistry between all the GBR players is helpful. But there’s a new type of chemistry to be made with every team,” said Bryce Van Order, a freshman Boise State player. “The new chemistry (we will form) in Boise is more important than the type the five of us had in high school together.”

One of the largest shifts going from high school to Boise State is the difference in leadership. 

“It’s really interesting to see more of a player-run program than a coach-run program,” said Doug Van Order, a father of two GBR rugby players who both went on to collegiate programs.

From the years of rugby he has watched, Doug Van Order believes that regardless of the coaching, Boise State’s program will change with the addition of several former-GBR players.

“The program is going to improve dramatically (when players are) coming from a quality program like Granite Bay. (They’re) going to bring good, strong values as well as skill to the program.” Doug Van Order said.

One such value is discipline. These GBR athletes are on the pitch 30 extra minutes after practice doing sprints and endurance-like exercises. Additionally, they will spend their weekends doing seven mile trail runs. 

“Most of these (high school) coaches had a military style of coaching where (the players) were expected to listen and follow exact instructions. This led to an extremely disciplined group of boys,” Doug Van Order said. “The players there are also there for a reason; that whole team already has talent and great skill.” 

To Bryce Van Order, departing from the coaching staff they were all used to isn’t a bad thing.

“We’re just a bunch of guys. We’re playing, having a good time. But we want to win, and that’s one of the main goals. You get a lot more of a cohesive team when you are close in age,” Bryce Van Order said. “Everyone on the team has some type of knowledge of the game and putting our brains together is  definitely going to give us an advantage this season.” 

As of now, Boise State’s season is in its early phases. After winning their first game at home on Sept. 14 against Utah State, the players are looking towards the future with an optimistic light. 

“If we keep practicing and playing with each other the we way have been, the team will be successful this year,” Bryce Van Order said. “We have chemistry here from a large club but now we are just Broncos, that attitude is what is going to win.” 


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