Every fall the CSU menâ€™s rugby team must build from the ground up.
The team, which is mostly composed of former football players, continues its 2011 fall season today when they face CU-Boulder in Denver.
â€œThe majority of the kids we get have never played the sport at all,â€ CSU coach Jake Humphrey said. â€œMost play football, which is still a huge challenge as we have to teach them the fundamentals of the game.â€
The Rams compete in the 30-team College Premier Division, a non-scholarship league divided into three divisions of play. Teams play two seasons, a competitive schedule in the spring, with an eight-team tournament to decide the national champion.
The team also plays a schedule of exhibition games in the fall.
The growth of collegiate rugby in America has opened the door to international competition for players.
â€œI think itâ€™s easier than most people think to play internationally,â€ redshirt junior Marques Vieira said. â€œAfter college there are two all-star teams to play on, so we have an opportunity to play rugby around the world.â€
Rugby as a whole has grown in popularity in America, especially with the inclusion of 7-man teams to the 2016 Summer Olympics. Both players and coaches for the Rams contribute the growing popularity of the sport as a key factor in their decision to play.
â€œRugbyâ€™s one of the big and up-and-coming sports in the United States right now,â€ junior Stephen Karas said. â€œThe fact that it will be an Olympic sport in the future has definitely lead to a rise in popularity.â€
Today the Rams, who were 1-7 last spring, will square off against the Buffs at Infinity Park in Glendale, for a game under the lights for the 2nd annual Colorado Cup. The Rams are not taking the Buffs lightly even after their 2-4 spring campaign.
â€œCUâ€™s always a very solid team,â€ Humphrey said. â€œWeâ€™re excited to have the opportunity to play under the lights in Denver, and (we) expect a close game.â€
The Rams will go into the game looking to showcase their younger players against a veteran-led CU lineup. The Buffs are looking to continue the offensive success they had against School of Mines, whom they beat 67-10 on Sept. 3.
â€œCU always has a big physical team,â€ Karas said. â€œThey have lots of experience and know how to play the game.â€
For the coaching staff at CSU, rugby goes beyond just being a sport.
â€œThe game of rugby has given a lot to me,â€ Humphrey said. â€œNow I want to give back to the players. Itâ€™s my life.â€
Club Sports Beat Reporter Christopher Boan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Who: CSU vs. CU-Boulder
- What: Rugby
- When: 7 p.m.
- Where: Infinity Park, Glendale, Colo.