Roadruckers make comeback after 5-year hiatus

Men’s and women’s soccer aren’t the only European pastimes generating talk on campus as the fall sports season kicks off.

The Metro men’s Rugby club is having a breakout preseason in their first year back as an official club in years.

“This isn’t the first time rugby has been on our campus,” club President Austin Cagaanan said. “They terminated the program about five years ago and we’re bringing it back.”

The man who initiated the resurgence is affectionately known as Coach Taffy. He is the head coach for the Roadruckers and has over 40 years of experience as a player and coach. He, along with two of his assistants, made the decision to bring rugby back to Metro after seeing an increase in involvement all across the country and state.

Metro senior rugby player Philip Sevier poses for a self portrait before hitting the practice field Aug. 25.  Photo by Alyson McClaran • amcclara@msudenver.edu

Metro senior rugby player Philip Sevier poses for a self portrait before hitting the practice field Aug. 25.
Photo by Alyson McClaran • amcclara@msudenver.edu

Metro eventually found themselves in the Frontier League of the National Small College Rugby Organization. The FL has a field of six other teams, some of which are familiar foes of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Schools like UC—Colorado Springs, Mesa State and Colorado State—Pueblo will see the Ruckers at some point during their six games of league play.

The Roadruckers recently had 36 students participate in one of their practices — the most since its return. Usually held Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer, the team plans to add another practice day to its schedule now that the fall semester is underway and participation is up.

Experience is no factor as they take all walk-ons. Phil Sevier, a Roadrucker member said, “We have guys who have never played rugby before and we have guys who have been playing since they were kids.”

Not only is no experience required, but whether you attend UCD or CCD — as long as you’re a student on the Auraria campus, you can join. Although the league tournament is for men only teams, your gender doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from playing either. “We welcome everyone to come out and practice — male or female — and hopefully we’ll be able to field a women’s team soon,” Sevier said.

Players who join will learn basic rugby techniques, one of which has helped keep injuries minimal in this high contact sport.

“The tackle,” a technique that teaches players to take their head out of the play was created by ATAVUS, a company dedicated to growing the game of rugby.

The near-shoulder to near-hip tactic better known as “cheek to cheek” is a form of rugby tackling that allows the defender to safely tackle the opponent in a restricted area.

Metro senior rugby player Philip Sevier poses for a self portrait before hitting the practice field Aug. 25. Photo by Alyson McClaran • amcclara@msudenver.edu

Metro senior rugby player Philip Sevier poses for a self portrait before hitting the practice field Aug. 25. Photo by Alyson McClaran • amcclara@msudenver.edu

Another reason why injuries are less likely to occur is due to the equipment each player has or lack thereof. The league law states that anything hard plastic or metal is prohibited on the field of play. “The closest we get to wearing plastic is our cleats,” Cagaanan said, who is also an ATAVUS intern. “And there’s still restrictions on those.”

Sevier agreed when he said “As soon as you put on plastic, it’s a weapon. If you don’t have anything on your head, you won’t try to hit with it.”

The Roadrucker’s next game is a friendly match against the Northside Marauders Aug. 29 in Thorton.

Author: Mike Tolbert

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