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Weber State rugby pushes toward the future

The Weber State University men’s rugby team is geared up for another season of scrums, tackles and tries as they move forward in their 2017–18 season.

Three Weber State players force the ball out from a Utah Valley player Feb 18. (Abby Van Ess / The Signpost)

Rugby remains an athletic club at WSU, not an official sport, which means they are entirely self-funded. The team’s season started in February and continues through their final game on April 21.

Multiple Weber State players tackle a Utah Valley player Feb 18. (Abby Van Ess / The Signpost)

Due to ongoing construction on the Weber State campus, the team currently plays home games at the Eccles Community Sports Complex in downtown Ogden.

Rugby is most often compared to American football, although rugby has some notable differences. One of the main differences is that a rugby game traditionally starts and restarts throughout gameplay with a scrum, where each team has eight forward players who manhandle their opponents in order to gain possession.

The team possessing the ball cannot pass the ball forward: all passes must be thrown laterally or backward. Unlike football, players can still throw and move the ball after they have been tackled.

Freshman Kelton Christensen said, “I enjoy rugby because it’s not a sport where it’s too complicated to learn. In rugby, everyone can generally do the same thing everyone else can.”

Weber State’s rugby team first played in 2007, and the team was a part of the Mountain States Collegiate Rugby Conference until December 2017.

A Weber State player runs with the ball against Utah Valley Feb 18. (Abby Van Ess / The Signpost)

The team is currently playing as an independent team, which allows it to schedule games against a wider variety of teams and play more home games.

Along with easier scheduling, independence also permits the team to sign up and participate in national tournaments, most recently the Shamrock 15’s tournament in Boise over spring break.

Members of the team choose to take part for a variety of reasons.

Junior Nick Corrigan, vice president of the club team said, “I grew up in a really small town, and we didn’t even have a football team. This rugby team is really awesome, and so I joined it, and I just love hitting guys, so that’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

While Corrigan joined the club as an outlet and due to a lack of other sports he could play growing up, other players have been committed to rugby since well before coming to Weber State.

Freshman Kevin Duran said, “I’ve been playing rugby ever since I can remember. I started playing in 7th grade, and I just didn’t want my career of rugby to be over after high school.”

While the club has experienced struggles in the past, support has increased over the years. Not only have they seen an increase in support from the university as a whole, they have also had an easier time gaining student support through social media.

Corrigan said, “This year we’ve been getting a lot of support from the school since we’ve been having a much more successful season, and a lot of our athletes have been doing really well.”

As a club, the team has faced issues that NCAA sanctioned teams don’t worry about. When the team participated in the USA Sevens College Invitational in Las Vegas, they had one prospective opponent fail to show up for a game. They’ve also encountered trouble finding referees and filling out a full roster, occasionally forcing them to borrow players from their opponents.

However, players believe the club can have a strong future with the increase in support.

Duran said, “I can see us becoming an awesome, strong, collegiate team as long as we continue to work hard and compete as a team.”

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