SDSU rugby team gets lift from National Guard

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

It may not exactly be football or soccer, but the similarities between the two sports and rugby are striking.

Rugby is played with 15 players on each side, compared to 11 in both football and soccer, using a ball that resembles a football, and there is no stoppage like in soccer.

“Most of the girls had no idea what that is-no clue what rugby is,” women’s team co-captain Kyla Larson said. “I just explained where it’s kind of like football and soccer put together. It’s non-stop.”

Since the men’s and women’s teams are considered a club sport, they do receive some money from SDSU, but each player is required to pay a due to help offset some of the expenses. The expenses range from gas to travel for away games to paying to enter the tournament.

This past season, the National Guard awarded both teams $5,000, which was put towards kits that had jerseys, as well as a wide variety of field and practice equipment, such as flags, goal post pads, practice and match balls.

“One of the guys that plays is getting actively recruited by the National Guard,” men’s co-captain Nick Pohlman said. “He called me up one day and said his recruiter mentioned it to him. I got online one day, filled out the application. I let [Larson] know about it; she filled out an application, and we both got accepted.”

The two teams are part of the Great Plains Rugby Football Club, which include teams from South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, and play against anyone ranging from Wayne State to the University of North Dakota to St. Cloud State.

The team also plays in tournaments throughout the year, which is also another expense for the team. The teams go to the Wayne State Tournament, the biggest tournament in the Midwest, every year, which had 68 teams for each men’s and women’s division.

“It was nice because we were able to play some teams that we usually don’t have to play,” Larson said.

Rugby is not for everyone though. It is a very physical sport, with padding at a premium, and injuries are common.

“It’s definitely a physical sport,” junior Catey Watkins said. “I dislocated my shoulder and proceeded to play four games after relocating my shoulder on accident. We’ve had people in their first game break their leg. It can get really rough.”

The men finished up their season on April 18 against Sioux Fall while the women wrap up their season this weekend when they host Omaha City.

The game will be played on the field just south of the disc golf course on campus. The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.