With a slew of various intramural and club sports, Trinity offers people of all types of interests a chance to participate in the sport they know and love. Whether students are into flag football, lacrosse or equestrian sports, Trinity has a team for them. The athletic administration and students take pride in the intramural and club teams on campus, so it is no surprise that when a new sport club is formed, a bit of buzz is generated. With a newly formed Rugby club on campus, championed by Calvin Usiri and Simba Machingaidze, the buzz is back.
Rugby has always been a tremendously popular game overseas, particularly in countries like Ireland and New Zealand. However, like soccer, rugby has not been able to crack that elite top tier of American sports. Lately the sport has been picking up steam in the U.S., and in many states you can find youth rugby programs and interscholastic competitions between high schools. Rugby is starting to build its foundation in the U.S.
Other colleges have rugby teams, and although it is not an NCAA sport, the level of competition and talent is extremely high. A spot at the Collegiate Rugby Champions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the ultimate goal for all of these teams, but the camaraderie formed through playing this demanding sport can be equally rewarding. That is a philosophy Usiri and Machingaidze have in mind for the Trinity rugby club; to not only give it their all on the field in hopes for a victory, but to foster genuine friendship among players.
“What is great about this sport is that everyone has to do the part. You can’t win as a team of individuals. That’s what we want to emphasize to people,” Machingaidze said. “It’s about brotherhood for many rugby teams. The memories are irreplaceable and the friendships are difficult to break. If you felt like giving up during the hour of fitness, your teammate will pick you up.”
Machingaidze had tried in years past to get rugby on campus, but the interest simply wasn’t there. This year is a different story. So far, the rugby club has gained interest from over 25 students, which is especially notable considering they only started practicing a few weeks ago. Their practices are every Friday, and they are working with the athletic administration in order to secure more concrete and consistent practice locations, as well as attempting to find funding in order to purchase uniforms, hire a coach and cover travel cost. Usiri and Machingaidze plan is to start locally and build the program up.
“So the end goal is to set up a rugby club to compete for national rugby championships. It will be a challenge because rugby is somewhat of a foreign concept here, and we also need to obtain funding. Right now we are receiving good interest, but we are more focused teaching the basic skills and rules, and over time hoping to play around the state and compete at the highest level possible,” Usiri said.
Usiri and Machingaidze have deep ties to rugby, both playing since childhood, and are very passionate about passing on knowledge of the game to their peers. For Usiri, an international student, playing rugby reminds him of home, which inspired him to reach out to Machingaidze and get the ball rolling on this project.
“I went to a British boarding school in the highlands of Kenya, so you can say that rugby was the culture there. Coming to Texas, I didn’t have the opportunity to touch a rugby ball, so I felt homesick fairly quickly. In order to ease the homesickness, my friend purchased a ball and we decided to toss around. Then the idea to start a club came,” Usiri said.
This rugby club has piqued the interest of many people with no prior experience playing. Just ask Aaron Johnson
“I got interested in rugby while watching the Las Vegas 7’s tournament on TV last year. That, plus the Olympics this past summer, really spiked my interest. Practices have been focusing on the fundamentals of the request but it is starting to be more physical. Anyone is welcome to come out, it is a real fun environment,” Johnson said.
With Olympic rugby airing this summer, it is no surprise that interest has grown in the sport. This exciting game will be a great addition to Trinity club sports, as long as the athletic administration assists in its formation.