Mason’s Oldest Club Brings Camaraderie to the Field
BY ALLY MCALPINE, ART DIRECTOR
In most team sports, the goal is to move the ball to the other end of the field. This is the same in rugby, however, the players cannot throw the ball forwards.
“I love the personality of rugby,” said senior Jesse Scearce, President of Mason men’s rugby team. “I played football all my life growing up, and everything is ultra-competitive … you’re not supposed to like the opponent’s team. Rugby’s a lot more social, it’s still heavily competitive, obviously, but after the match you go and hang out with the other team.”
Unlike American Football, rugby differs in respect to stoppage rules and the ability to wear protective padding.
“[In] football you obviously have pads so that was the first surprise.” said sophomore computer science major Jarod Keller. “There is no offensive line, you’re not breaking in a huddle and you’re not running the ball, stopping, getting back in line. Football is stop and go. This is more like soccer, you just go in.”
A rugby game lasts 80 minutes and is divided into two 40-minute halves.
“Good cardiovascular condition helps a lot because [the game] is 80 minutes and if you’re suckin’ wind after 40 you’re going to be in trouble,” said captain Karl Shannon, a management major.
Shannon remarked basketball players transition well to rugby because they have already mastered good vision. This skill implies the ability to see the openings and closing of players on the field and adjust accordingly.
“The sport itself, it’s something that’s different it’s something that stands out,” said Scearce. “I have it on my resume and it gets brought up at every single interview I have … it’s always a good conversation piece.”
The team is coached by two Mason rugby alumni, Head Coach Andrew Leonard and Assistant Coach Zander Shaw.
“There were some weird things that happened with the club leadership, and then the club almost folded,” said Zander. “We lost our coaches, so Andrew and I are local, and we decided we’d help the program get back to what it was.”
The men’s rugby team has a long history, starting in 1965, and is reported on the Mason Recreation website to be the oldest club at Mason. Today the team prides themselves in continuing to have a strong camaraderie between members.
“It’s a really good group of guys and that’s something that definitely helped me stick with it through the first year when I was trying to learn the sport,” said Scearce. “Unfortunately, I’m the last one from when I first joined, but I’ve tried to keep that mentality going of when we’re out there when we’re all running and we’re all dead tired and we’re all like ‘c’mon let’s go, lets go’ and you don’t get that in a lot of other sports, but that’s always been a constant here.”
Saturday, the team played a friendly match against their brother club, West Suburbs in Fairfax.
“In rugby, the competitive season, at least in college, is only about six or seven games during the fall,” Scearce said. “That gives you a lot of free weeks. You still want to be able to play a game every weekend, so to fill your schedule you call up teams and say, ‘Hey, are you free this weekend? You want to play?’ It’s still rugby They’re still going to go as hard as they can, but in the conference’s eyes it doesn’t count.”
The next official match for men’s rugby is Sept. 29 against UMBC. The match will be a home game played on field four of West Campus.
“My favorite thing about playing in matches is everything, to be honest,” Shannon said. “I just love it. I’m completely addicted to it, I plan to play as long as my body will let me.”