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Rugby For The Rams



Fordham University


Rugby For The Rams

Better than football will ever be

Liam Mckeone


Rugby is a game of international acclaim, one that showcases just how tough men and women can be. There are ears to be ripped off, battle scars to accumulate, sore legs to endure. With its fast paced nature and constant tackling, one wonders why rugby hasn’t caught on in America. After all, violence and a short attention span are two trademarks of an American stereotype, and rugby encompasses both of these traits. Not only is it incredibly fun to play, but to watch as well. But what you’re probably wondering is, why should I care? It has its own set of rules and looks like a shitty knockoff of football.

Well, the woman’s rugby team at Fordham has this to say in response: "It is way better than football. Football sucks."

While this is certainly a bold statement to make, one must understand the basics of rugby in order to understand why this claim may hold some validity. To aid your understanding, here's a quick overview by someone (me) who also didn’t understand rugby but wanted to learn about it.

Rugby for rookies, as explained by a rookie:

One team has the ball and attempts to score in the other team’s goal area. The ball can only be moved forward by running it or kicking it. You can pass to teammates, but only backwards. This is why there is no “quarterback” who can “just throw the ball in the end zone already!” While you attempt to make your way to the opposite goal area, the other team will attempt to violently bring you down by any legal means possible. When a player is tackled with the ball, a struggle for possession ensues with a lot of pushing and shoving (without getting too technical about it). One team eventually establishes dominance over the ball, and they take it to try and score. A "try" is the title for the equivalent of a score, and in order to score a try, the player must place the ball in the opponent’s goal area. No dancing around or any other such shenanigans. Whoever has the most points in the end wins. Sometimes, scrums happen, which is that thing where everyone locks arms in a pile and pushes hard against the opponent’s pile while the hooker (stop laughing) tries to corral the ball for their team. There are also lineouts, which is kind of like an out-of-bounds play in basketball except in order to get the ball, the teams must lift up a smaller person to grab it, like the superhuman in Kicking and Screaming.

Those are the basic rules, and while it’s no guide to becoming an expert, it will at least avoid confusion as to why they never seem to huddle and yell BREAK.

Playing rugby, and being a part of the woman’s rugby team specifically, is awesome, and a unique opportunity afforded to those in college. But what if you don’t want to play rugby? Or what if you're a guy and can’t play on the woman’s team? Well, luckily, there is a men’s team, and rugby is incredibly fun to watch (if you know what’s going on, which you now do). While it can be hard to drag your hungover ass out of bed at 1:30 PM to watch rugby in the fall, it’s definitely worth it.

When asked why people should watch rugby, Natalie Firenzo, a junior who joined the team her freshman year, said “You’re constantly entertained. The classic football game is super slow and stops all the time, whereas rugby is continuous and very fast paced.”

With Rugby Sevens (a game of rugby with only seven players on each team instead of eleven) coming to the next Summer Olympics, it’s the perfect time to understand the entertainment and difficulty of rugby. “The athletes are insanely strong and cover a huge amount of ground. It’s absolutely incredible," Natalie continued. It’s hard to understate the fitness of any athlete who plays rugby, since they’re essentially running around for over an hour straight while getting physically punished all the while.

The members of a rugby team are the toughest of the tough, truly passionate about the game, and can drink you and all your friends under the table without breaking a sweat. These ladies from the woman’s rugby team are no different.

Each member had their own story for how they got involved in the team. Natalie decided to try it out because she wanted to play a sport in college, and with rugby, everyone was starting at the same level. Rugby, especially women’s rugby, isn’t terribly popular in high schools throughout the US, but is fairly common on college campuses. So, when deciding if one should join up, lack of experience isn’t something to worry about. Everyone had their own story about joining up, from “They screamed at me during the club fair” to “They actually begged me to come to just one practice,” or even “I tried out for women’s soccer and didn’t make it”. It takes a lot of courage (and screaming from the team) for anyone to show up and try out a brand new sport with a group of people they never met before, but every member of the team did it. They loved it, and each stay for different reasons.

“Rugby is just such a cool and unique thing to learn with a special skill set that’s really fun to use,” said Emily Mills, a junior at Fordham and one of the three girls who had previous rugby experience before joining the team. Though she had a prior appreciation for rugby, Emily, when asked why she loved playing for Fordham, said “It’s the togetherness of it all. It’s one of those clubs where everyone is awesome and really diverse, so I love showing up to practice and playing.” This togetherness is what appeals to most of the girls on the team. Surely, it has helped that this togetherness inevitably leads to legendary pasta parties that are reportedly “lit AF," culminating in a massive feast at Michaelangelo’s for their end-of-the-year banquet.

So, when you’re meandering around the club fair trying to find something else to occupy your time, listen to the screaming voices. No, not those voices, the ones coming from the table overflowing with women decked out in short shorts and jerseys even though it’s a toasty 13 degrees outside. You’ll get in the best shape of your life, meet some awesome people, and maybe, just maybe, sneak an invite to one of those pasta dinners. At the very least, you’ll lock yourself down a good nickname; names such as Nassa, Tits, Jizz, Ms. Email 7, WindMillz, Nart, Carrots, and Flolleen have graced the team over the past few years, and they’re always looking for the next one. Go Rams! Go Women’s Rugby! And football sucks!