Ivy Leaguers in the U.S. have been playing Rugby since 1840. At UM Rugby has been played since 1989 and since the clubs inception it has had one coach, Frank Williams. Prior to his work here at UM, he coached the local Miami Rugby Club.
Williams has no other affiliation with the school other than the club.
“I coach and teach the game,” said Williams, “Some of these guys have never seen a rugby ball.”
According to the president of the club Sophomore Nick Davis, rugby is a complicated mix of soccer and football with fifteen players from a team on the field at once. A rugby ball is white and egg shaped, like a football but smooth with more rounded ends.
Rugby was created at, and later named for, the Rugby School in England when a man named William Webb Ellis was playing soccer and picked up the ball to score in 1823, according to the official site of USA Rugby.
According to the site, there are four ways to score in a rugby game. Similar to football, there are ‘try zones’ instead of end zones, and when the ball crosses an opponent’s goal into the try zone it is called a ‘try’ instead of a touch down and is worth five points. After scoring a try the scoring team gets a chance to kick the ball, like football’s extra point field goal, over the cross bar and through posts of the capital h-shaped rugby uprights for a ‘conversion’ worth two points.
Like soccer, rugby is a continuous, full contact sport where, unlike football, when a tackle is made play continues.
“It’s difficult but you can pick it up fairly quickly,” said Davis.
This year the team has about 40 members allowing them to travel and compete with two different squads, guaranteeing everyone a chance to play. They don’t hold tryouts or make cuts to the team and welcome anyone to play with no experience necessary.
“Sometimes we’re brilliant and sometimes we’re not so brilliant,” said Williams.
This semester the team is 5-1, with their only loss going to the nationally ranked team from University of South Florida (USF).
“We out played them,” said Senior Mike Scanlon, team captain, “We were winning at half time but we missed three tackles that led to their scoring.”
At the end of the semester they’ll travel to the national tournament in Mobile, Ala.
“We have players who have been playing for maybe a month on our A-side, as well as Australian exchange students who have been playing since they could walk,” said Davis, “More than likely, if its your first game, you won’t be sure exactly what is going on, but that makes it even more fun.”
The players have all different reasons for playing. For Davis, it was his brother.
“My brother was my idol,” said Davis, “I played with him on our high school team and we got really close.”
For others it’s a good way to stay in shape and get outside for a study break.
“I played a lot of contact sports in high school and I needed to find an outlet for that energy when I got to college,” said Senior Tad Debarros.
The team practices Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. on the IM fields and has friendly matches almost every weekend.
“You get addicted,” said Scanlon.
UM Men’s Club Rugby’s next home game is Saturday, Oct. 30, at 2 p.m. on the IM fields where they’ll face off against Florida International University (FIU).
For more information UM Men’s Club Rugby can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandra Montalvo may be contacted at email@example.com.