As the fall sports season starts up, many think it’s time to cheer on the Pointer football team, but people forget that fall brings another sport, one that some say is more brutal than football.
Rugby has all of the intensity of football without pads. It is just players hitting each other with no protection.
The game is played with a large, oval-shaped ball that players run with, lateral to other teammates. A team can only have 15 players on the field at once.
Rugby has become more popular over the last couple of years as a college sport. University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point fields both women’s and men’s teams.
"As far as I know, just about every school in the UW system has some form of rugby present on their campus," said two-year rugby veteran, Kyle Florence.
Despite the growth in popularity, both rugby programs at UWSP are not recognized as part of the school’s athletic program, which can pose challenges for the rugby club.
"One major setback is club funding. Unlike NCAA-recognized sports, our practice apparel, equipment, etc., is not supplied to us, which requires our club to rely heavily on alumni donations and fundraising," said Florence.
"I think the biggest disadvantage would be not being able to use the athletic training staff on campus," said Brady Dallman, also a two-year veteran of the team.
The athletic department doesn’t provide a coach, so John Blakeman, head of the Political Science Department, is the team’s official coach.
Veterans of the rugby team also help Blakeman run practices and prepare lineups for upcoming games.
Rugby may seem like a fun sport for all to play, but it is a physically challenging game for even the best athletes.
"Physically, rugby is about as grueling as a sport can get," said Florence. "There is no stoppage throughout, so you are constantly running across the field, as well as tackling opponents without any sort of protection but a mouth guard."
It may be rough and challenging, but both Florence and Dallman say that the pros they get from rugby outweigh the cons.
"I think it’s awesome how, even though we’re all different dudes from different walks of life who normally would probably never come in contact with one and other, we can come together as a single unit every Saturday," said Florence.
"I enjoy the team bonding aspect and how much fun the game really is. I also love everyone on the team," said Dallman.
If you’re interested in joining the rugby team, Florence says that you can either contact Josh Hames or Derek Wagner for more information or come to one of their practices, held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30-9:00 p.m. on the intramural fields.
"I’ve played just about every sport there is at some point in my life, and none have been as fun or as rewarding as rugby is," said Florence.
The men’s rugby team’s first game is Friday, September 14, at 7 p.m. on the intramural fields. Come on out and learn about a new, entertaining sport.