UA rugby teams grow in popularity
Published on May 26, 2015
By: Kelsey Kunstadt
Each year the men's and women's club rugby teams, part of UA's University Recreation programs, recruit many of their new players from Get On Board Day. Men's team president Matthew Schick said it is not uncommon for 90 kids to show up to the first practice after Get on Board Day and then drop down to 30.
"You don't have to tryout to be on the team, there is a place for everyone," Schick said.
UA's rugby team members are committed to compete in a challenging club sport. The men's and women's rugby team sacrifices football game days, challenging practices and traveling away in hope of coming back with a victory, Shick said. Both teams have had a successful season this year with the men's team finishing second among the SEC schools in the fall, and the women's team going into the playoffs undefeated.
"There is a tremendous amount of skill level in rugby and a lot of information to learn," Schick said.
Schick said a lot of people never played a contact sport before and that it's a new experience.
Men's head coach Mark Seitz said rugby games consist of two 40-minute halves. The year-round sport is played with no pads. The only equipment worn for both men's and women's teams is a mouth guard and cleats.
Schick said the team is a close-knit group and that they have been able to amp up practice and keep focused on both increasing skill and the team's brotherhood.
"I love the non-stop action rugby consists of," said Eli Schultz. "It's fun to do, get active and nice to have a team."
After both the men's and women's games, it is tradition for the UA team and the opposing team to have a social afterwards. Win or lose, the teams enjoy conversation and pizza with each other.
Caitlin Robinson, a team captain for the women's team, said every Thursday night after practice the team socializes at El Rincon together.
"We really like to stay a united team," said Katie Ott, vice president of the women's rugby team. "I hope we stay as close-knit as we are."
Ott said every Saturday during the year is Family Day. The women's team runs together and cooks breakfast together.
The rugby teams are growing their programs with motivated leaders. With the challenging contact sport that rugby is and the physically challenging practices rugby demands, the rugby team leaders are an essential component to the team.
As a team captain, Robinson focuses on the women's safety and attitudes in order to lead the team to a victory. Robinson's main job is to ensure that team players are being treated fairly throughout games and raising the players spirits.
Ott works hard as the women's rugby vice-president to ensure traveling arrangements are finalized. Additionally, Ott sets up fundraisers and plans the team meals.
Schick said his immediate goal as president is to keep consistency. Schick and Seitz talk long-term goals and continue to scout out a new group of kids every year.
"I love the sport so much," Seitz said. "It is nice to have young blood to motivate me."
For students interested in joining a rugby team next year, visit http://urec.sa.ua.edu/sportsclub.cfm for more information.
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