Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Southern Miss Golden Eagle Rugby

The Southern Miss Collegiate Men's Rugby Football Club is a long standing tradition at the university. Having started in 1973, it is the oldest running club sport here. They are members of the Deep South Rugby Union, which encompasses men's clubs and collegiate men's clubs from the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Currently, teams from all of these states are competing in what is called the "matrix," or regular, season for Deep South Rugby. As with any other collegiate sport, this regular season leads up to playoffs, and finally, contention between two teams for the national championship (though rugby is not a part of the NCAA, it is formatted as an official collegiate competition).

To give a bit of insight about rugby, it involves a mass of fifteen players from each team on the field, at a time. Typically, these many players are spread across the field, and in not so many instances, you will find more than ten of them bunched together. These many players are divided into two categories: forwards and backs. The forwards are the main muscle of the team, similar to the offensive and defensive lines of football; the backs are the skill players of the team who run most of the organized plays. Only backwards passing is involved and the game only stops for a halftime break during its 80-minute run. These are just a few of the laws rugby players are made to follow. The game takes time and skill to learn.

The Southern Miss men's team is working with a relatively new set of players who are taking some of their first steps into the game. The team now stands at a 0-2 record with a home and away match remaining, and a chance to still make it into the playoffs. Team President and Captain, Josh Neely, seeks to develop this team into a strong force in and out of the Deep South Rugby Union--but he is first getting the core concepts of the game into the minds of newcomers to the sport.

The team website discloses a bit more background on the current players, officers, schedules, and more at SouthernMissRugby.com. One can catch the team practicing at The Rock on Tuesday and Thursday evenings during the week, watching international rugby matches on the big screen at Buffalo Wild Wings on the weekend, or playing a match somewhere in the south on Saturdays...because, "Saturday, is a rugby day!"

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