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Rugby in the Ozarks

by Big Sports Staff February 1998


In the world of sports, there are certain sports that do not make sense to many Americans. Take for instance curling, a sport where people rub ice with brooms and try to make a puck stop close to a line. Or how about the sport of luge where you lie on your back traveling 80 mph and the only braking system is your feet. There is one sport that has been in existence for a couple of hundred years and most Americans do not totally comprehend the sport. This is the sport they call rugby, where you combine the endurance of soccer and the power of hockey.



To most of us, rugby seems like a brutal sport where the object is to smash the guy and the ball any way possible. However, rugby is a game of finesse and skill that also has the violent collisions that make American football games an exciting sport. Rugby is a fast-paced game where play never stops. And if you substitute for a player, the player coming out may not go back in. A game lasts 80 minutes and is played on a field that is longer and wider than a soccer field. The object is to score a “try" which is running the ball across the goal line and then touching it to the ground. Or you can kick the ball through the goal post Depending on the quality of play, the final score can be very low or high.


Springfield is very privileged to have a rugby team that competes in the Heart of America Rugby Football Union. The Springfield Rugby Football Club was formed in 1983 and has been playing continuously for 15 years. The Springfield Rugby Football Club plays and spring running approximately l0 weeks. During the summer the team participates in three rugby tournaments. These tournaments are quick paced and are played in one day.


Rugby was first played in Springfield by the Southwest Missouri State rugby team. They started rugby in the early 70s and played until the early 90s. The Springfield Rugby Club was formed because a variety of people wanted to participate in the sport that was not on the college level. Rugby brings a diverse group of people from truck drivers to lawyers, all in the same arena trying to work as one unit to achieve a common goal. Rugby is a very unique sport; it is not only a game but a way of life. Rugby is so universal that when you meet someone who plays rugby you have made a friend for life. Coach John Moore states, “Rugby is an international fraternity regardless of language and social background.”


When watching a game of rugby, to many spectators it may seem like a scene out of “Braveheart.” But in actuality, the guys have the utmost respect for each other. In most sports the physical contact is taken personally and fuels many grudges held by athletes on and off the field. Yet in rugby the contact is enjoyed and each competitor shows respect for the other. The contact is what makes rugby so great. It is the mixture of blood, mud, and sweat that is what the ideal football game is all about.


President of the Springfield Rugby Club Cam Collins says “Rugby is a great sport to help high school football players extend their careers in contact sports." Once their playing career is over, they hold administrative offices. The Springfield Rugby Club is made up of current players, former players, friends, spouses, etc. Those who are not current players are called social members. It is the social members who attend matches, help with fundraising, and attend social functions.


Springfield is a club for anyone and everyone. They have players as young as 15 and rookies as old as 45. Springfield now has about 60 members in the club and is always looking for new players and social members.


The rugby play is at a high level in Springfield but not us skillful as on an international level. International play is beyond the skill levels in the states because the international players begin playing rugby at a very young age.


Although the Springfield Rugby Club may not be as experienced as their international counterparts, Springfield is still one of the best skilled teams in their conferences. The Springfield Rugby Club understands the intelligence and skills needed for a great rugby team. Springfield rugby has produced great talent like Clint Moore, Fred Lawrence, Greg Gurke and up and-comer Kevin LaSalle.


Rugby is a sport that is chaotic yet still has a civilized demeanor about it. Rugby gives people a chance to still go out and compete, to meet people, and even to travel the world in some cases. The sport allows people to live through glory days instead of bragging about how good they were in high school.


1998 SPRINGFIELD RUGBY SCHEDULE

February 28       Home Pittsburgh State University


March 7           Away St. Louis Ramblers


March l4          Home St. Louis Royals


March 21          Away Wichita, KS (MT)


March 28          Home Missouri University


April 4&5         Away St. Louis Ruggerfest Tournament


April 11          Home Johnson County, KS (MT)


April l8          Home Emporia State College, KS (MT)


April 25          Home Springdale, AR

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