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Scrumin' in Springfield

The Springfield Rugby Football Club has been bringing great sports action to the area since 1983.


By Mert Seaton

Staff Writer Community Free Press

September 2007


What sport uses the terms pack, ruck, scrum, try, and maul?


If you don’t know the answer to that question maybe you should take some time and check out the Springfield Rugby Football Club (SRFC).


The sport of rugby originated in England in 1800.The sport is an early predecessor to the football we see today and still uses a lot of the same rules.


‘The principles of rugby are similar to football; you progress to an endzone called a trizone or end goal." SRFC member Rhett Smillie said. “The term touchdown actually came from rugby, but in our sport you have to touch the ball down.”



The Springfield Rugby Football Club started in 1983 and has been very successful in the area.


“The club was started by some guys who moved from Kansas City," Smillie said. “At the time SMS had a team and after the guys graduate_cL£hey‘Wanted to start their own team.


“We play in a union called Heart of America. It is like playing districts in High school and the first one or two progress to the union level then the playoffs and then the national level. We made it to the national level four or five times in the last few years.


Smillie said he got into the sport because a friend he played college football with talked him into giving it a try.


“It is a little bit of an adjustment but if you have never seen a ball you can come out here and play,” he said “It’s not rocket science”.


“It is just the greatest sport I have ever played, and this is the greatest group of guys.”


People who don’t know a lot about the sport of rugby sometimes assume it is a violent sport where people are trying to kill each other. Smillie said that couldn‘t be farther from the truth.


“It is very physical, but not violent,” he said. “No one is out there trying to intentionally hurt someone. There is actually less injury in rugby that there is in football. We don’t wear helmets or pads so we don’t want to get hurt. It hurts when you hit someone and if you do it a lot you won’t be playing long.”


Because of this misconceptions, Smillie said it could be hard to recruit new members. He said the club is in a process of rebuilding because a lot of people have retired.


“It just kind of goes in cycles.” he said. "For the past several years we have had a lot of talented players and we have some talented up and coming players. It is difficult because of the misconceptions of violence. People say. ‘I don’t want to get hurt." A lot of people may be retiring, but don‘t expect Smillie to be one of them.


“I have some years left, good lord willing,” he said. “We had a guy who played until he was 56. He was a tough guy and very mild mannered. You would have never pegged him for a rugby player. “Smillie said most of the members of SRFC are just like the S6year—old man.


“If anyone comes out and watches us they will see both bigger and smaller guys on the field,” he said. “It is not about how big or tough someone is, it is more about longevity. There is a real camaraderie and respect for each other.


Rugby Terms

Drop Kick: “A kick made after the ball has reached or bounced off the ground. Worth three points if it clears the goalposts; also used to restart play after a score or certain other occasions.


Forwards: Players who pack in a scrum or throw and jump in a lineout.


Free Kick: A relatively minor law violation that allows the non-offending side to restart play in an unopposed fashion. Opponents must retreat 10-meters and wait for the non-offending team to kick the ball through the mark. A free kick cannot be taken for goal.


In-goal: The area bounded by a goal line, touch—in-goal-lines, and dead-ball line. It includes the goal line and goal posts but excludes touch—in-goal-lines and dead-ball line.


Knock On: The accidental hitting of the ball from the hands or arms toward the dead ball line. Results in the same scenario as a forward pass — a scrum to the non-offending team.


Lineout: Restarts play after the ball goes out over the touchline. The team that didn’t touch the ball last has the throw-in.


Maul: Formed by one or more players from each team on their feet and in physical contact closing round a player who is in possession of the ball.


Pack: Forward unit of a team, engages in scrums and lineouts.


Put In: Rolling the ball down the center of the scrum tunnel.


Ruck: A ball-winning activity following a tackle and release; a ruck is formed if a player from both teams is in physical contact over the ball which is on the ground.


Scrum: A way to restart play where a bound group of players form a tunnel with the opposition.


Support Players: Players who position themselves to increase the ball transfer options of the ball carrier.


Tap Kick for (or “tap move”): A gentle kick to oneself, followed by a pick up, used to restart play after either a penalty or free kick is awarded.


Throw In: Throwing the ball down the middle of a lineout.


Touchline: The side boundary of the field (sideline).

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