Rugby teams suspended

Julie Frank

Julie Frank

The men’s and women’s rugby clubs were suspended by the Intramural Council for playing April 14 on a wet field.

The decision came April 17 after both clubs met with the Intramural Council, which consists of supervisors of intramural sports, to discuss the events of the previous Saturday.

The teams were scheduled to play a home game against Wayne State (Neb.) on April 14. The rugby field, which is shared with other clubs, is located on the east end of campus next to the flag-football field and the disc-golf course.

The melting snow, which fell earlier in the week, left the field wet and muddy. Due to this, Matt Thorn, the facility manager, banned both teams from playing on the field for safety reasons, according to Mark Ekeland, coordinator of intramural sports.

However, both teams played.

As a consequence, the men’s club was suspended for six consecutive months and the women’s club for one. In addition, the teams will split the cost of repairing the damages done to the field, estimated at $500, according to Ekeland.

Both teams are upset with the results but each is handling it differently.

Sara Smith, president of the girl’s club, said she was never told they couldn’t play.

“We messed up,” she said. “We are going to pay for our actions.”

The men’s team, however, sees it differently.

Joey Galvin, president of the men’s club, was told the morning of April 13 that the following day’s game couldn’t be played on that field. Despite the call by Thorn, Galvin made the decision to play on his own. He made that decision because the visiting team had arrived already and also to avoid the fine that would be issued if they canceled.

Galvin, along with former president and teammate Sam Nelson, argued the intramural sports are on a “witch hunt.”

“I was surprised by the irresponsibility of the intramural,” Nelson said.

Nelson continued to say the intramural sports claim they are worried about safety, which he finds hard to believe. The team found three “broken-off, jagged” fence posts, six-inch horse tracks and tire tracks in their field. He also said $500 wasn’t done in damages.

“We did a little damage but did not ruin it,” Galvin said.

As coordinator of intramural sports, Ekeland’s job required him to punish the teams for playing.

“They put themselves and us in a liable situation,” he said.

If Ekeland chose a punishment for the teams, they would have been able to appeal it to the Intramural Council, who have the final say. Ekeland chose to pass his decision on to the Intramural Council, believing the teams would appeal. If he had made the decision, Ekeland would have chosen a more severe punishment.

Ekeland also said the teams weren’t even allowed to practice on the field because it was unsafe and were to wait for Thorn’s okay. The teams also violated the rules because they failed to have a UPD officer on site during the game.

“If you are going to be a college team, then play by college rules,” he said.

The men’s rugby team was reinstated in March as an official SDSU club after being suspended for two years. Nelson said the current members are trying to “polish up the club’s image.” They participated in Friday night’s Relay for Life to help that mission.

As for the girl’s team, Smith said she is looking forward to next season.

“I want to play harder to prove we aren’t troublemakers next year,” she said.

#1.883474:4253518093.jpg:rugbypile1waynestate.jn.jpg:An SDSU rugby player sneaks the ball from a dog pile during the game versus Wayne State on April 21-22.:#1.883473:553415984.jpg:rugbywaynestate.jn.jpg:An SDSU ball carrier is pushed by a Wayne State defender in Saturday’s rugby game. :#1.883472:433085374.jpg:rugbyvswaynestate.jn.jpg:SDSU rugby players dogpile a Wayne State (Neb.) ball carrier. University officials suspended and fined the SDSU club for playing after being warned one day earlier to stay off the storm-softened field.: