This month, the Bellarmine Rugby team kicked off their season, with a league game at home on February 11th against Bishop O’dowd. The team is excited for the new season and is confident in their abilities. Despite some commitment issues, the team is focusing on enhancing their teamwork skills and particularly on their crashes in the coming season.
This year, the Rugby team is working on their crashes and integrating everyone’s styles into a more cohesive team. According to Mr. Ryan, one of the coaches, the team this year “(has) some fast guys” this year, which leads them primarily using “crashes” in their playstyle, where during a play they crash forward to gain yardage, and pass it backwards to another player to take advantage of any openings. However, Mr. Ryan also stressed the importance of endurance training.due to the continuous nature of the game; the team that is the fittest is more likely to win.
An interview with a member of the team, Joaquin Schmidt, a senior playing Fullback reveals that “We’re trying to work as a team, in previous years we all kind of had the skill but we worked kind of individually”, a sentiment echoed by Mr. Ryan who mentioned how rugby emphasized individual decision making from other sports because its continuous play requires the team members to make their own decisions. But it is still a team sport, and integrating everyone is a major priority for this season.
However, the rugby team is also focusing on off the field problems as well. According to the coaches, Mr. Cussen, and Mr. Ryan, the biggest problem for rugby is the commitment from students. Because there isn’t really a culture of Rugby at Bellarmine, and it’s a no cut sport, there is a lack of commitment from the students who don’t take it as seriously as other sports.
Even though there are 80 to 90 students on the team, Rugby is not officially part of the athletic department, but is instead one of the Club sports on campus (Ice Hockey, Roller Hockey, Ultimate Frisbee, and Rugby), where it is not able to get enough funding under Student Activities. Bell Rugby often has to deal with not having a dedicated field and other issues, which leads to some students to place rugby as a lower priority than other sports at Bellarmine, causing students to not attend practices as often. “Because we have to fight for field space, students see that, and in their minds and think of Rugby as more of a fun [less serious] thing culturally, even though we don’t push that”
There’s also the matter of it being a club sport. “Because it’s a club sport…” Mr Ryan said “…it’s no cut, we’re not going to cut people who don’t show up”. Mr Ryan was quick to clarify that there were penalties for not showing up to practice, “obviously if somebody is showing up to practice, and somebody else isn’t [the person who shows up] is going to play” but the problem still persists. This year the team is empathizing to the players that they need to practice if they want to get time on the field.
With all that being said though, with the coaches at least, there is no lack of enthusiasm, and everyone seemed extremely optimistic about the team’s chances this year, with all of them saying that they have a lot of talent on the team this year, and Mr. Ryan recommending going to one of the games, saying “If you can come out to the game, find one of the coaches and they’ll find a player to sit with you and explain how the game works”. Mr. Cussen says that “Rugby is the best sport in the world”, and that “It’s a ton of fun”.