Biola Rugby gains momentum
The team solidifies its standing as a club on campus as it kicks off its fourth full season. | Photo courtesy of Biola Rugby Club
“We have a rugby team?” This question is one senior scrum-half and club president David Melo and junior open-side flanker Clayton Yip often hear when they tell fellow students about their passion. Rugby has officially been a club at Biola for four seasons, and Melo has been a member for the last three.
The team trains and competes on a Biola-owned field located off campus in La Mirada. This location, coupled with the newness of the club and America’s unfamiliarity with the sport, is the cause of the club’s lack of recognition around campus.
“It just started with seven guys, just kind of playing rugby together until they got a good amount of people going and they finally registered,” Melo said.
KEEPING THE CLUB ALIVE
Now that the club starters have all graduated from Biola, it is up to the next generation of players to keep the club alive and guide it as it grows. The students receive help from their head coach, Talbot professor Andy Draycott, who was immersed in the rugby culture during his time studying in England, and assistant coach Paul Park. However, Coach Draycott has spent the current semester on sabbatical, and the team expressed that it has been largely student-run for the first half of this year.
This year’s team is composed of 24 students. The game of rugby requires 15 players from each team to be on the field and, due to outside obligations, only about 18 players for Biola are able to attend the games. Most of the Eagles’ recruits are students who have either played football in high school or just enjoy competing with friends. Little to none of the current players have experience in the sport before attending Biola.
TAKEN OFF BALANCE
The Eagles began their season with a game against the Cal Poly Pomona Rugby Club on Nov. 21. Biola performed in front of a home crowd of roughly 50 fans, but lost with a final score of 20-56.
“We didn’t expect them to come out as strong as they did because they didn’t have a full team last year,” Yip said. “And this year they came out with more than enough guys. So we were kind of taken off balance. Going into this next game we’re going to have the right mindset and stay level.”
Due to schedule shifts, the Eagles will have to enter winter break with a record of 0-1 and look to improve their record over the spring semester.
As young as it is, the Biola Rugby Club has more priorities than winning games. On top of their list is gaining exposure that they hope will lead to more recruits and game-day fans. One step taken towards this direction by club leaders this year was the creation of social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. These accounts titled “Biola Rugby” are where news of the team and results are posted, as well as the upcoming schedule and directions to the field.