Rugby club here for the long run
Biola's club rugby team groups together in prayer before a game. | Ashley Jones/THE CHIMES
Correction: This article originally reported the score against APU was 63-0, but the score was 55-0. The Chimes regrets this error.
“Biola football: undefeated since 1908.”
This phrase headlines the popular mock-pride shirts worn by many around campus to signify the supremacy of the nonexistent Biola football program. While we are still lacking a football team, most students in the past have filled this void with intramurals. Now students have a new option for hard-hitting, ball-throwing action: rugby.
Biola rugby takes its first steps toward the field
The Biola rugby club is wrapping up its first year as a full-time club team on campus. After multiple past attempts by students to start up a team, this one finally stuck and looks to be here for the long run. Next year the team will advance to division three of the Southern California Rugby Football Union, be put on an official schedule and become a full-time team in USA Rugby.
Other members of the Rugby Football Union include Azusa Pacific University, Concordia University, California Lutheran University and Whittier College.
Many things went right this year for the club to become official with Biola. Andy Draycott, theology professor, took over the responsibility of coaching and mentoring the team and has been a key part of its success.
Rugby has been a huge part of Draycott’s life; he has played since he was 13.
“I played through high school and in college and even did some regional ball, playing two games a week during season,” said Draycott, who ceased playing in organized leagues when ministry consumed his life.
The team has been in a state of constant learning. Still, freshman Chris Ganotise, who played football in high school, described some definite similarities between the two sports.
“You want to tackle low and hard. In football, you block, but in rugby there’s no blocking,” Ganotise said, as he also mentioned similarities in footwork between the two sports.
Draycott emphasized that there are no certain qualities to a rugby player except athleticism.
“The player size varies. You could have a big guy who is strong and not too quick or a small guy and they would both be just as effective to the team,” Draycott said. “Only so much can be gone over in practice and in drills. The games show us what we are learning and the players get a real rugby awareness that cannot be replicated in practice.”
Rugby grows on campus along with the rest of the country
Rugby is not only growing on the Biola campus, but in the rest of the United States as well.
“According to my friend at U.S. Rugby, it is the fastest-growing amateur sport in America. College rugby is growing, as well,” Draycott said. “It’s not high-profile like football, but Biola not having the football team helps the popularity of it. It takes guys that would either be playing football or wrestling.”
Despite rugby being a brutal and high-contact sport, Draycott described the strong community formed within the team.
“Rugby is very social and team-oriented. The strong team bonding is what keeps people playing,” Draycott said.
After two games this year, the team is 1-1. They defeated University of California Irvine 34-5 in their first match, but fell against APU 55-0 in the second match.