Brothers push through the scrum


John Whittlesey/Observer

Maverick (left) and Aladdin (right) Schirmer use their sibling rivalry to push each other on the pitch.

Samuel Beaumonte, Staff Reporter

It’s a scrum. The ball has just gone out of play and the referees call for the teams to line-up. Central’s rugby team has its forward pack ready with the opposing team mirroring them.

Senior Aladdin Schirmer is in the back row as the eight-man. His brother, Maverick Schirmer, is on his left and their friend Vili Toluta’u is on the right, both junior flankers who complete the back row of the forward pack.

A referee calls, “Crouch!” and the front rows go down. The next call goes, “Touch!”, followed by, “Set!” and the ball is back in play as the teams start pushing for control.

The Schirmer brothers have been playing rugby at Central since arriving on campus, and now they are in the middle of their final season before graduation.

Head coach Tony Pacheco remembers how it all started for the duo.

Aladdin Schirmer “was nothing like he was when he joined; he’s put in a lot of work since he got here,” Pacheco said. “I recruited him out of high school and he played a lot of different positions when he first joined us to help ease him into it.”

Before being picked up by Central, Aladdin Schirmer had no plans to play as the eight-man but his recruitment by Pacheco was for the position specifically.

“I was against the change at first, but it grew on me pretty quickly,” Aladdin Schirmer said. “I’ve always had a thing for running into things.”

As for Maverick Schirmer, his family helped him choose rugby as his main sport. He has moved from center to flanker for 15s and plays prop for the 7s season.

“My brother started it as a side sport for football and he brought me along. We played football and track before we focused on rugby,” Maverick Schirmer said. “Our family is pretty big on sports and they helped me push myself and figure out what I really wanted to do.”

Being just a year apart, the two brothers are competitive with each other and the whole team can see it.

“Every day, every practice and everything we do, there’s definitely a big-brother little-brother relationship there,” Pacheco said. “Aladdin will give Maverick a hard time and Maverick will give it right back. I think Aladdin is harder on Maverick than any other teammate.”

Someone who has a front row seat to the brother’s rivalry is Vili Toluta’u, who lines up in the seven-spot of forward pack, which completes the back row of the scrummage.

“They kind of compete position wise, but more about what’s right and wrong, in the end they both get the job done though,” Toluta’u said. “When they compete it makes you want to compete with them too, it gets us to push ourselves to the limit. We have a good connection between us three and it works well.”

The three of them each have their own specialty in the back row, which brings up the rear of the forward pack and then connects to the back line of the 15-man set-up.

“Generally speaking, number six is one of the best tacklers, number seven is our best at turnovers and number eight is a ball-in-hand threat, ” Aladdin said. “A scrum works only as good as the whole team. It’s about creating one push by working together to win the ball.”

The forward pack requires a lot of teamwork to operate effectively.

“Working together isn’t easy, we fight a lot because we want to push each other. We work together a lot on the field and it’s hard because we have our moments,” Maverick Schirmer said. “We’re assets to the team and I’m really looking forward to winning this year since it’s my brother and I’s last season.”

Despite this being the brothers’ last season before graduation, their approach to the game hasn’t changed.

“There’s no difference between our last season and our first season,” Aladdin Schirmer. “it’s all about getting better and leaving it all out on the field.”