To those unfamiliar with rugby, a match doesn’t seem any different than a cage fight with an oddly-shaped football. But to the members of the PLNU Rugby Team, it’s safer and more fun.
“Rugby is organized chaos,” said sophomore Jesse Oleson, the team’s vice president. “There’s 30 guys on the field at a time. It’s a crazy sport.”
Like any other sport, rugby develops camaraderie and sportsmanship, despite the rougher physical contact.
“People see rugby as a sport that’s way too aggressive,” said sophomore team member Kevin Piscopo. “People think there’s bad blood between the different teams, and that we all hate each other, but that’s not true at all. We usually go out for pizza with the other team after a game. If you play rugby, it’s like you’re a part of a big family.”
Senior David Barber, team captain and president, said rugby actually isn’t as dangerous as other sports.
“There’s a misconception that it’s a really dangerous sport, but I think it’s safer than football,” said Barber. “The way we tackle is safer.”
Because there are no pads or helmets in rugby, the players make sure to tackle the other players in a way that won’t cause any real damage.
“In football, you have a false sense of security because of the pads and the helmet,” said Oleson. “Tackling has to be more controlled in rugby because it’s more dangerous.”
However, just because the tackle is more controlled doesn’t mean that the players aren’t putting their weight into it.
“When we tackle, we tackle them all the way to the ground. You can’t just try to knock someone over, or run through someone,” said Barber.
The PLNU Rugby Team is a club team, so while they don’t have the privileges of a varsity sport, they still compete frequently. During the season, the team plays almost every Saturday. They practice Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. at Dusty Rhodes Park. The team plays schools throughout Southern California in every division. They are in a league with schools like Biola University, California State University at Northridge and Loyola Marymount University.
“We’re really looking forward to the LMU game,” said Piscopo. “We played them last year and tied, but we should have won. They’re an aggressive team, so there’s a bit of a rivalry there.”
But the new and improved team isn’t looking to tie anymore. All of the players agree that the team has improved tremendously over the past few years. A few weeks ago, the Sea Lions defeated San Diego State in a huge upset.
“The team is looking so good this year,” said Piscopo. “Last year we played San Diego State and got smashed. This year it felt so great to go out and beat them.”
Barber reiterated that this year will be different for the team.
“Last year we went 2-3-1, and the year before that, we didn’t win a game,” said Barber. “This year we have a lot of good returners and freshmen. The talent is there and now we have the knowledge of how to play well.”
While they have fresh talent, Piscopo said the team still needs the support of their fellow Lomans.
“We’d love to have more people at the games,” said Piscopo. “When you have people cheering for you, you go a lot harder.”
The rugby team will play the University of San Diego this Saturday at University of San Diego.