Rugby fends past, moves forward
Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014 09:02
The game of rugby has a bad reputation.
According to Sam Houston State University rugby treasurer Zack Meyers the reputation comes from the idea it’s “a bunch of drunkards crashing skulls together.”
And SHSU’s club rugby squad hasn’t been exempt from the bad rap.
After returning to campus, SHSU rugby is putting the past behind them and only looking forward, Director of Rugby Johnny Smith said. With the addition of Smith and five new coaches, SHSU is looking to take the program off crutches and rebuild.
According to Smith, an off-campus incident involving a former rugby player led the team to being removed as a club sport, SHSU is hoping to rid the checkered past and move forward, he said.
“We want the campus to know to take us seriously,” Smith said. “The rugby team has had a certain reputation in the past and we want to overcome that and let people know we’re a true blue endeavor.”
The team plans to overcome previous struggles by focusing on the future. Since the rebuilding of the program, the squad has developed a better structure in being student athletes while serving the community, according to Smith.
“We want to be something the university can be proud of,” Smith said. “We want to them think of rugby and think, ‘Oh yeah. Those guys represent us.’”
Smith added the best way to be better on the field is to be better people off the field.
SHSU has set up a regulated guideline for the rugby squad academically by setting a 2.0 GPA standard for each member of the team, a rule the team previously didn’t abide by. The team also offers academic assistance for players who have a GPA below a 2.5.
SHSU rugby president Marcos Garcia said he plans on hosting a high school rugby tournament in May and hold a camp for high school students interested in rugby.
Garcia said the success off the field will come success on the field.
The team is playing at the highest level of collegiate rugby through USA Rugby Division I-A. Although the competition is stiff with powerhouse Oklahoma in the same division, SHSU is taking small steps working their way to victories.
“We have less people, but we have better athletes,” Garcia said. “I would like to win at least two conference matches.”
The team has put in the work on all sides of the ball every Monday and Wednesday night, but is only missing the numbers.
SHSU needs 15 on the field at all times and sometimes it’s hard making those numbers due to injuries, sickness or leave even with a 20-man roster. Meyers stressed his desire to bring more people into the sport to experience what he’s been a part of since he was in junior high.
“My goal is to have more people be on the club,” Meyers said. “I want more people to experience the game of rugby. I want it to grow on the field and be a better team together.”
With two months left in the season, SHSU is hoping to finish strong with matches against Baylor, University of Oklahoma and Texas-A&M before matches in the Texas Cup in April.
SHSU's club rugby squad practices every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. on the intramural fields.