SportsRugby struggles at start of season

Inexperience hurts the team as they seek to build momentum
Alejandra GerlachNovember 6, 2019323 min
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Photo by Martina Almeida

Trinity’s club rugby team begins their fourth season 2–3, which is a decent record at first glance. However, the team’s only two wins were awarded by default, highlighting one of the growing pains this inexperienced team faces as they try to build unity.

The team has lost games against Texas State University, Prairie View A&M University and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. These teams, like Trinity’s rugby team, play 15s (15 players on each side) and are a part of National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO).

According to junior and president of the team Grant Kinscherff, rugby practices are vigorous and skills-oriented, and the team’s tough start to the season does not reflect the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

“We get there at six … We play touch, which is touch football or touch rugby, and then at six we start fitness. We do a lot of running …Then we’ll go into either skills or position work. We usually do skills first, which is things like tackling — mainly tackling — passing the ball and position work, like where should you be on the field and things like that,” Kinscherff said. “Then we separate into forwards and backs, which are the two categories of positions. When we separate we work on set-piece skills.”

However, according to first-year Christian Tatu, intense team practices are hindered by low attendance. Although the roster has 22 players, any given practice only has 10 to 15 attendees. According to Kinscherff, an effective practice needs 10 players minimum, although the team has to make do with smaller turnouts due to conflicts with weather, Greek life [participation] and classes.

“We’re having trouble with recruitment, having enough guys at practice and being able to have a coherent game plan. It’s harder to do that when we have less people at practice, so that’s been an issue. When we go to games, we have to bring in a bunch of random people, so it’s kinda dysfunctional and disorganized,” Tatu said.

The situation is further complicated by a relative lack of experience. Only 13 players of the 22-member team are returners to the team.

“We have a lot of new people. We have very few returning players and players who have experience, so it’s a very inexperienced team. I think considering that we’ve done well, but there’s always room for improvement,” Tatu, a first-time player himself, said.

External factors also contributed to the rugby team’s rocky start. Kinscherff explained how the two defaults by Rice University that improved the team’s record were also detrimental to the team’s performance.

“We were supposed to play Rice, who canceled on us twice. So we didn’t get those practice games against other small schools. We didn’t play any other small NSCRO schools until we played Texas State, which was a division above us and just got bumped down, so they are really good. And we played Prairie View A&M, which is just a really good team which has been around for a long time,” Kinscherff said.

Despite a bumpy beginning, the team maintains a positive outlook on their performance. Junior Chris Vicars, who has been on the rugby team for three years, outlined the team atmosphere of camaraderie and pride.

“It’s a ton of fun. The team environment is really great. It’s really nice because we’re really new — the club’s only three years old — so it’s really fun to build that up and see what it’s become,” Vicars said. “It’s just a lot of fun and a really fun sport, a unique sport. You don’t find here in the U.S. as much. There’s also a really great atmosphere, we have games where we’re hitting each other and then afterwards we get together and go to the bar with the other team.”

Although Trinity’s rugby team had a few losses start to their season, their drive to improve and sportsmanship indicate the possibility for future victory as players continue practicing and playing together on a more consistent basis.

“As we’re progressing [our performance is] getting more succinct and more coherent,” Tatu said.

Alejandra Gerlach

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