Every Monday and Wednesday, the Troy Rugby Club meets at the band field on John M. Long Road at 6 p.m. for its practice sessions. The sessions consist of athletic training, drills and scrimmages. The club is welcoming new members who are interested in trying a new sport.
“We are an official university-sponsored sports team, but we are also a club,” said Chandler Burleson, a junior social science education major from Leeds and the club’s president. “We play other division one colleges such as Alabama, Florida and Auburn teams.”
Hill Beedy, a sophomore marketing major from Fairhope has been the vice president of the club since last semester.
“Troy Rugby is relatively a small club right now which is why we are trying to get a lot more recruitment,” Beedy said.
Burleson recalls there being only four members when he took over the club in May 2018.
“It has been a struggle at times, but through struggle and adversity, we are growing to become stronger and successful in the end.”
Currently they have around 10 members, but that varies depending on student schedules.
The club is regularly involved in tournaments and matches in the spring semester and even has opportunities for the fall semester. The spring semester falls on season for seven-men teams while the fall has 15-men teams.
“Normally in rugby, you have either 7’s games or 15’s games,” Beedy said. “Right now, we mostly play seven against seven because of the number of people we have, but we would love to expand in 15 versus 15 which is what professional rugby players play.”
The club is also open to the idea of playing practice matches against anyone who wants to play.
“Everybody is welcome just to come out on the field and play with us and drill with us and practice and see if they like it,” Beedy said.
According to Beedy, Rugby is a sport which invites brotherhood and close-knit friendships, even among opponents. The in-field culture does not include trash talk or any aggression outside of the sport itself. The club furthers the bond by hosting a “Stink and Drink” in which the members go to a sports bar after every game and elect a “Man of the Match.”
“You know, people say about soccer that it’s a game for gentlemen played by hooligans. Well, rugby is a game for hooligans played by gentlemen,” Beedy said.
The sport, itself, is very much like football. Though lacking much of the gear that football players wear, the regulations against fouls are much stricter.
“You see in football people wrapping around each other and throwing them to the ground,” Beedy said. “You’ll get thrown out of the game the first time it happens.”
According to Beedy, statistically, rugby is much safer than American football when it comes to concussions and major injuries. Small bruises and scrapes are more common. Though rugby does not require body pads, it does enforce mouth guards, proper jerseys and cleats.
Furthermore, rugby does require a medical expert and proper first aid equipment to be present during all official matches.
While the club used to have a professional coach a few years ago, now they rely on the expertise of the players who have been playing rugby for six or seven years.
The recruitment process for the club is simple. In order to be a member, a student should show up to the practice as much as they can. There is also a $50 membership fee associated with the club which covers T-shirts and tournament fees.
“As long as you can come out there and play, that and the $50 fee is our only requirement as of now,” Burleson said.
The members will also be required to buy an inexpensive gum guard before being allowed in tackle practices and matches.
“Even if you show up a day before the four tournaments we have planned for this season, you are eligible to enter,” Beedy stressed.
“Rugby is a sport for all shapes and sizes,” Beedy said. “You know, we have people on the team right now who are 5 feet 6 inches and 300 pounds and people who are 6 feet 7 inches and 150 pounds. It’s a sport for every body type and athletic specialty. No matter what your athletic ability or expertise is, there is a position for you on a rugby team.”
The flyers with contact information for the club can be found all around the campus.
“We are not hard to get in contact with, so just come to practice and we will find a place for you,” Beedy said.
Interested students can also contact the club on Facebook at Troy Rugby Official or on Instagram at @troytrojansrugby.