National Small College Rugby Organization LLC: Latest News: Small College Rugby : The Heart of Rugby

Monday, October 1
Small College Rugby : The Heart of Rugby

I received the following from Brannen Ellison, Assistant Coach of St. Edward's University RFC (www.stedwardsrugby.com). I am proud to share it with you. In 2011, SEU won the Texas RU D3 Championship and participated in the 2011 NSCRO Playoffs. They were ranked no. 5 in the Nation among Small Colleges (Division 3) at the end of the season. Their success encouraged them, despite being a "small college", to move up to Division 2 in 2012 where they continued to find success. This year they've challenged themselves even further by moving into a Division 1-AA Conference. Brannen says that "NSCRO is where the heart of Rugby truly is, nothing has compared to that experience."

NSCRO is where the heart of Rugby truly is, nothing has compared to that experience.

Rugby is quintessentially American — quirky and outside the mainstream, yet simultaneously focused on the ideals of our society in that it requires teamwork, physical conditioning, and surrender to an arbitrary authority. The U.S. has long had a thriving college rugby subculture whose capital is Cal Berkeley, which has over 20 national championships to its credit. However, the heart of Rugby, and the heart of the Rugby Subculture in America, lies within the small college programs you seldom hear of, in the hearts of players whose names will never grace the national headlines.

Rugby has too often been exclusively about post match camaraderie. Characterized by many people as a "social game". Many Americans seem to think it is all about kegs of beer and juvenile songs often championing chauvinistic attitudes and degrading women. However, spend some time with some teams truly dedicated to perfecting the art and spirit of the game and you find something much more, something truly romantic and something truly universal. You'll find that there's quite a few guys on the team who don't drink, you'll find there are members of the team from the four corners of the world, from completely different socio-economic classes, who worship different gods and quite often were raised speaking different languages.

Despite their individual characteristics and differences, the players develop a common bond with each other - they generate relationships that are relevant to their livelihood and their nature. You'll find players who have perfect grades in school, who rise to become CEO's of major companies, who become teachers, doctors, police officers, and every other vocation one can imagine. Whilst most are so-called amateurs, there is an amazing amount of professionalism and camaraderie among them. These young men lean on each other for support, become groomsmen at each other's weddings, attend each other's family funerals, and sacrifice other personal and professional relationships for the sake of friendship.

A unique aspect is the relationship that the players and coaches build with each other — they develop a sense of trust and brotherhood amongst one another. Like any other sport, the players develop a tight bond that syncs the team. Rugby is heavily reliant on timing and other acquired techniques that involve precise communication skills, and this molds a centralized way of thinking. Rugby forces people to become smarter. Rugby forces people to rely on each other. By forcing players to count on one another on the pitch, they are intrinsically counting on each other off the pitch.

What evolves is a tight group of individuals, each completely different, yet who completely depend on each other for everything imaginable. All faults are excepted. All sins are forgivable. All that is required is to show up, stand with the other men, and take on the same tasks, regardless of ability, skill, or outcome. Rugby is the great equalizer. All are welcome. All can succeed. Yet it is only for those who choose to do so, out of their own free will.