After graduating eight seniors, the AU men’s rugby team welcomes newcomers to join their organized club. “We’re looking for anyone who is real aggressive in nature,” said Hunter Rush, president of the rugby team.
In his second season coaching and first year as head coach, Stephan Savarimuthu, says the team has worked diligently in creating a brotherhood that plays and enjoys rugby.
“I’ve really enjoyed coaching these young men, and seeing how their fascination with the sport has grown,” said Savarimuthu.
The team currently has 16 players on the roster with a goal of 20 or more. “In rugby, there is not one player that does it all,” said Savarimuthu. “You need everyone for their specific role in order to succeed.”
A player does not have to have any experience playing rugby or any other sports in order to join the team.
“Anyone who wants to play is welcome to come join,” said Rush. “There’s always a spot on the team.”
This student-run organization was founded by J.R. McGee in Feb. of 1991 and is one of the oldest clubs on campus.
At the end of every practice, the team is encouraged to bring a person with them to the next practice. “Rugby is a sport for everyone,” said Savarimuthu. “No matter your size, speed, weight, or ability, there is a spot for you.”
Depending on how well the team does, men’s rugby can participate in the rugby playoffs to play for the regional and national championships. In the past, the team has won championships and gained the title of “Best in Midwest”.
This past season, the team took the year off of competing to revamp the program.
“Our focus this past 2015-2016 school year was to build our team back up and reestablish ourselves as the dominating force that we have been known to be in the past,” said Savarimuthu.
Savarimuthu says that the team wants to make sure they create an atmosphere that welcomes all different kinds of people.
“If someone were to meet our individual players, you would note how diverse everyone is,” he added. “We have business majors, music majors, ministry majors, and so on.”
Rugby has team dinners and other activities to help build up the team unity. “We truly uphold our value of brotherhood,” said Savarimuthu.
This coming season, the rugby team will have a banquet that will include a senior send-off with food and a last pre-game chant.
The men’s rugby team participates in odd jobs around the Anderson community in order to raise money for funds. This includes shoveling snow, car washes, raking leaves and any miscellaneous activity that they may be asked to do.
“We are a tight-knit group that works together for the good of the team,” said Savarimuthu.
Since they have to personally fund the team themselves, it costs $25 per semester to play. The cost helps to cover expenses for games, officiating fees and insurance.
The rugby team currently does not have any sponsors, but officers are working on some for the upcoming seasons.
With a strong alumni base, Rush says that, in the future, the team will have alumni games in order to raise money for fees. After meeting with the senate of the National Small College Rugby Association, they have gained enough money so that next year the participation fee will be reduced.
Next year, the rugby team will have new officer positions such as treasurer and secretary to help with funding for the future.
Rugby officers have made sure the team has been involved in interest fairs in order to get their name out on campus. “A lot of time, money and dedication goes into making this club, and this club would be nothing without them,” said Savarimuthu.
Rush says that the rugby team has used every opportunity to bring in new players and have even worn jerseys around campus.
“A lot of the recruiting comes from intentional conversations,” he added. “If we see someone having a bad day we’ll talk to them and tell them to come check out the team.”
The rugby team has shown they will do whatever it takes to remain a club on campus. “AU rugby wasn’t supposed to make it this far but we’re going to make sure we keep it going.” said Rush.
For more information about joining the rugby team, email Rush at email@example.com.