BY SHRUTI RAM – STAFF WRITER
Looking to learn a new sport? Have no fear! A hot new sport is right under our noses, and its name is rugby.
Inspired by ball games from Ancient Greece, rugby was a style of football developed in the city of Rugby, Warwickshire, in England. A little known fact is that there are two different kinds of Rugby that can be played: rugby league and rugby union, but the latter is more popular, and played often in schools in Northern Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Though often thought of in America as “football without padding” or the predecessor to football, the sport of Rugby is so much more. Steadily gaining popularity in the States and on Centre’s campus, there are some things about Rugby that are worth knowing—like how to play it.
Centre’s Rugby club, just formed last year, is thriving and can often be seen practicing in various spots on campus.
“Playing Rugby is so much fun and I’m glad people are realizing that,” junior Paul Holt said. “[Centre’s Rugby club] has around 80 members now and has tripled in size from last year.”
Like most sports, it is played between two teams, with each team trying to get the rugby ball to the end zone of the other team. Each team has 15 members, though certain games can be played with seven members, and the objective is to score as many points as possible. The total duration of the game is 100 minutes, with two 45-minute halves separated by a halftime of five minutes.
But there is one little known fact that differentiates the sport from so many others: women can also participate on the same team as men.
“We actually have three or four girls in Centre’s Rugby club right now.” Holt said. “People don’t realize that women’s rugby is actually pretty popular, so we’re trying to get more girls involved. Women can actually play with the guys and don’t need their own team, so that is why Centre’s rugby team has girls as well as guys.”
Sophomore Emma Presberg is one of the women in the Rugby Club at Centre, and says that “it’s actually a lot of fun playing with guys, and I like everyone on the team.”
Holt has no doubt that the women can keep up with the men on the team.
“Women can actually be as, if not more aggressive than the guys,” he said.
Perhaps one of the largest misconceptions about the sport is that it is very rough, and that players in Europe do not have all their teeth, losing them during games.
“I really don’t think rugby is any rougher than a game like soccer, for instance,” Holt said. “Here at Centre, we play touch rugby, so we’re not allowed to tackle.”
He added that he has been injured playing the game before, but all members of Centre’s rugby club are insured.
“USA Rugby insures all our members, and the money is sufficient enough that any injuries are completely covered by them,” Holt said.
Though there may be some similarities between rugby and football, there are many differences that go beyond the lack of padding. The ball, for instance, is easily recognizable, but is sometimes confused with an American football. Both have an unusual, oblong shape. This is so the ball is easier to carry and catch, unlike a typical spherical ball, which can slip out of one’s grip easily.
However, a rugby ball has a slightly larger circumference, while a traditional American football is slightly flatter. Rugby balls also lack the two signature white stripes that appear on a football, and can come in a variety of different colors and markings, unlike the familiar brown of the American pigskin.
As far as playing the game, Holt and Presberg note a lot of differences.
“Unlike in football, a play doesn’t end when someone is tackled, it just keeps going until it is completed, which I like,” Presberg said. “One of my favorite things about the game is that all the players have to be good at everything, so you can’t just be good at one thing.”
“In a lot of ways it’s harder than football. In rugby, you have to pass backwards while running forward,” Holt said, “and you can only tackle below the waist.”
All members of the rugby team at Centre seem to enjoy being a part of the team, and playing the game with a big group of people; however, Holt still hopes to garner more supporters for the club.
“Eventually, I hope we will get to play actual games someday,” Holt said. “I think that would make the experience even more fun.”