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It's Springfield vs Springfield in Rugby Scrum

Eric Bailey News Leader September 1997

What would possess a person to spend a Saturday getting hit, tackled and spiked while wearing no protective pads?

“That’s crazy, ain’t it?” asked Kevin LaSalle. “It’s takes a certain mentality, and you have to enjoy it.”

“It” is rugby. LaSalle is a member of the Springfield Mud Puppies, a local rugby club.

The Mud Puppies will engage in the battle of Springfields on Saturday, taking on its namesake from Illinois at 2 p.m. The match will be on the field near National and Montclair. Admission is free.

LaSalle, a 26-year-old from Republic, turned to rugby because of a lack of competitive contact sports after high school.

“Baseball players have softball, basketball has leagues at the Y, but there isn’t any contact sports except for rugby,” he said.

The Mud Puppies are led by second-year coach Jon Moore. The 43-year-old does more than just sit on the side-line and watch, though.

“Some games, I’ll still get out and have a run.” Moore said.

Moore, of Springfield, has been with the club since its inception in 1983.

He has no problem getting tackled by opponents half his age because age doesn't matter to his team or to Moore, who loves every opportunity he gets to jump on to the field.

It’s a sentiment followed by the other players, too. As an example, Moore pointed out the newest Mud Puppy, James Young.

“He’s a 41-year old rookie,” Moore said. “And he’s having a great time.”

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