Yes, We Have a Rugby Team

Hannah Webb, Editor-in-Chief

At Keller High School, we pride ourselves on the sheer quantity of activities that we have available for our students. As far as sports go, we have football, basketball, soccer, track, cross country, tennis, and even Quidditch! And I’d be willing to bet that during your career at KHS, you’ve attended a game or match featuring at least one of these sports.  But for those sports fans out there who are looking to change it up, there’s another activity at Keller that I’d be willing to bet you haven’t seen: rugby.

It’s a unique combination of football, soccer, and the smallest bit of basketball. After hearing about this sport and deciding that such a unique and unheard of concept was just begging to be written about, I did a little digging into how exactly rugby is played.

Essentially, it’s a game between two teams, each with 15 players. As usual with most sports, the team scoring the highest amount of points wins. There are several different positions that players can have (which I won’t go into for the sake of length), and the ball is relatively football-shaped.

The game starts with a kickoff from the center of the field, after which the team that gets the ball attempts to score a “try.” A player scores a try when he touches the ball to the ground in the opponent’s goal area and wins 5 points for his team by accomplishing this. Then, the scoring team has the opportunity to kick the ball in between two goal posts to score an additional 2 points known as “conversion points.”

This is all relatively normal play in the realm of sports, but what’s interesting is that while the team attempts to move forward to in order score a try, the ball can only be passed backwards, making rugby an interesting sport to hear about, yet even more interesting to watch as it’s different from virtually any other sport out there.

Head coach of the rugby team Chris Morrison certainly agrees, rugby is an entirely new beast even for players who have experience in football or soccer. He commented on his favorite aspect of coaching rugby:

“[My favorite thing is] watching young men learn a completely different sport and start understanding what this sport is about.”

If you haven’t heard of Keller’s rugby team, you’re not alone. The team started with just two founding members, who today serve as Captain and Co-Captain of the team: Jake Eason and Chris Moore. After doing my research and feeling at least somewhat knowledgeable on the sport, I spoke to the two captains to get an idea of what rugby means to Keller’s players.

For captain Jake Eason, it’s become a way of life: a lesson that no matter what you do, giving it 100% of your effort is essential.

“[I don’t allow] myself to take off days, you can’t do that in rugby because of how fast-paced the game is…this game has taught me you have to go 100% in everything you do,” said Eason.

It’s true, rugby takes a lot of effort as it’s one of the most physical sports out there. In football, players wear pads to relatively protect themselves from harm. In rugby, there are no pads yet the same amount of tackling occurs. Concussions and spinal injuries are common, with 35% of all injuries in the sport resulting in bone fractures.

So, if rugby is so treacherous, what keeps its players dedicated in the first place?

For co-captain Chris Moore, it’s the relationships. For all the hard work and physical contact that occurs on the field during games, rugby players have a sort of brotherhood unlike any other. It’s a sport that focuses on family as well as competition.

“My favorite part about rugby is the relationships you build on and off the pitch; 15 people all working for one goal forms a special bond unique to any other sport,” said Moore.

Rugby players even get to connect with those on the opposing team, forming unique bonds based on their shared skill sets and love for the sport.

“It’s a brotherhood; even your opponent is a part of your family. After every game the home team will host a get-together with the away team and have food, drinks, and just a really good time and talk about the game,” said Eason.

For all the passion Keller rugby’s players have and all the interesting aspects of this game, it’s a surprise that Keller’s team has gone almost unheard of. Today, the team has about 20 players and what’s more, they’re very competitive in the running for the state championship this year.

While rugby is a sport not many people have heard of, much less know how it’s played, I highly recommend you take the opportunity this year to branch out of your usual routine and come watch the rugby team when their season begins on January 20th at Keller Sports Complex.

If you’re feeling especially ambitious and are interested in joining the rugby team, contact Jake Eason or Mrs. Stevens, as the team is always looking for new players. With all the dedication and potential for success the Keller rugby team has, they certainly deserve a sizable fanbase and eager potential participants.