Oct 082008
Authors: Keith Robertson

If you stop by the intramural fields on any given night, you will see the usual sports — football, softball, soccer and various other activities.

You may also see a sport that most of campus does not know: rugby.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday the club sport rugby team practices from 8 to 10 p.m.

But in rugby, the term “practice” means something different. When the players come to the fields in shorts and t-shirts, they know what lies ahead.

Practice is two hours of non-stop work. The players run short of breath as they fall and fight on the ground for the ball.

Each player works hard to perfect his grasp on the ball and the game. The other side of the practice field has continuous offensive vs. defense drills, where the players run until they fall and can’t run anymore.

Then they do push-ups. Then they run. Then they do push-ups.

When your sport is eighty minutes of constant running you need to be in shape — not normal shape, rugby shape.

On the field and at home, each player is responsible for lifting and running on their own time to have enough endurance to survive the season.

And the team is on its way to that goal, only the first of many for them this season.

The Rams are looking to bounce back from a disappointing season a year ago. Early last season the team suffered losses that seemed to find their way into the players’ heads.

“We need to stay focused throughout the season,” said Craig Sherman, a senior sports medicine major and player.

“If we can just stay strong throughout the season, I think we’ll be good.

While last year’s season may not have ended at the top, this year the rugby team has high goals they’re ready to reach.

Having all but one returning starter makes this team confident, experienced and hungry for a great season.

“This year we’re definitely a lot better team,” said senior Dan Wonstolen.

“Last year was kind of a rebuilding year for us . and we’re looking really good and strong this year.”

Being in a sport with such tough competition, the rugby team has to set its goals high, and works tirelessly to achieve them.

This year the goals are set on getting to the national title tournament.

“At least sweet 16, hopefully final four,” said Wonstolen in reference to team expectations this season.

To do this they must win a number of league games and be successful in the spring tournament, a feat not easily reached.

“Conditioning, team cohesion and rugby: This is what the team is working on. Simple in word — a little different in execution,” said head coach Blake Stevens.

Last week’s game may have proved the opposite, however. The Rams dominated the University of Colorado 34-12.

The team may have started off the season well, but it’s a long season, and the Rams do have challenges ahead.

Rugby is a game of pace, and the CSU rugby team has the speed to set it.

Using their speed and passing ability, they can out-maneuver around the competition with ease.

“We’re one of the smaller teams, so we use our speed to our advantage and get it outside more and use our quickness to get through people,” Sherman said.

The rugby team is going to have to prove their skills this weekend as they take on the University of New Mexico.

“They got a bunch of big kids, they play big guy rugby, just smash mouth right up into it,” said coach Stevens.

They’ll get the chance to prove that their skills and size are enough to win this Sunday at 1 p.m. on the intramural fields.

The team hopes to draw a crowd, thanks to some of the Homecoming energy that the football and volleyball teams are generating.

“It’s a bunch of guys hitting each other, some crazy rules . and guys running in short shorts,” Wonstolen said.

Are there any other reasons to watch sports?

Sports writer Keith Robertson can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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