The simple rules of rugby are “15 guys, 40-minute halves, one referee, no pads, no helmets, one goal . . . to win” — or so says the Weber State University Men’s Rugby Club website.
Johnathan Francis, a junior at WSU, has been playing rugby for 10 years and is now the club president.
“I picked it up while living in England and have loved it ever since,” Francis said. “My favorite part of rugby is the brotherhood that is formed. There is just something about running around and hitting each other that just forms a bond.”
Bastian Cowsert, WSU senior and team vice president, said he got involved with rugby because of the movies.
“I thought it was a cool sport and I always wanted to play it,” he said.
Cowsert, who hails from Washington State University, said his old school did not have a lot of sports and was missing rugby.
“I knew Weber had a team, and I thought it would be cool to play,” he said.
The origins of rugby are attributed to soccer player William Webb Ellis. Stories say he picked up the soccer ball during a game and started running with it. Over time, the shape of the ball and rules began to change and evolve into the modern game of rugby.
“The first balls were made with leather and a pig bladder on the inside,” Cowsert said.
Rugby is starting to see a rise in popularity and membership at WSU. The current men’s rugby club consists of 30-40 members.
“Anybody can come out and play,” Cowsert said. “All you need is a mouth guard and cleats. We are always looking for people to come.”
Non-students can attend practices, but one needs to be a student to play in the games.
“It is really easygoing,” Cowsert said. “Right now it is open subs. Once January hits, then we have a set 22 guys. The best player plays, and there are no politics involved. If we get more players, then we can form more team; the more the merrier.”
The rugby club is making a push to get WSU and the community involved, Francis said.
“The club now requires the team to put in a minimum of five hours of community service per player,” he said.
The club has a service project in the works. Members will wear their team shirts during service projects to represent their club and WSU.
“Rugby is just a fun sport, and it is physically as well as mentally demanding,” Francis said. “It will also teach you discipline, build confidence and team spirit. When we play, we hit hard, we run fast and we strive for victory, but as soon as the final whistle blows, we leave it all on the field and throw our arms around the guys next to us as though we had been best friends forever.”
Those interested in playing rugby can attend practice at 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the lower quad in front of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building. No experience is required. More information is available on the club’s website, www.weber.edu/menrugby.