Poet Rugby looks to knock some loose-heads

Arturo Muñoz 

ASST. SPORTS EDITOR

Whittier College is home to many Division III sports that compete with many other Division III, and some Division I and II schools as well. The amount of attention some of our sports receive also depends on the success of their season or even the popularity of that certain sport in our community. However, there is one sport on our small campus that is not part of our own Athletics Department, and that is our own Rugby Club. 

The Rugby Club has been around for seven years and has established themselves as a real collegiate team on our campus although is not part of SCIAC. Though the team does not get the same support or publicity as other sports on campus, you, can still see them practicing throughout campus whether it be in front of the Wardman Library or on the lawn of the Science & Learning Center. 

The team seems like a big part of the community even if they do not get the same amount of fans that the other sports on our campus receive. The team is always welcoming those who want to watch their practice – something that most of our other sports do not. “It’s a very communal team we encourage people to come out and play with us, it is a club after all, we don’t have any exclusivity,” said third-year Fly-half  Aidan Whyte.  The team is also always looking for new players with or without any prior experience to go out and practice with the team. “We do encourage players who haven’t played the sport to come out and try it just because we like to teach people the game and hopefully show them that it’s something that they could possibly get into,” said third-year Wing Trey Tiscareño.

The team recently had a tournament at Occidental College, where they face Occidental and University of California (UC) Riverside in a “friendly” Round Robin Tournament. The team’s first game was against Occidental. They got off to a slow start, failing to score in the first half. “Only about 25 percent of our team actually has experience. A lot of it is new players, and we played Occidental first, and they’re just a solid rugby program,” said Whyte. “So, the first half we hadn’t scored at all. They actually scored a few tries against us, but in the second half it only took a quick talk and everyone remembered everything they practiced and we came together and scored twice.” 

The team’s second game was against UC Riverside where they were able to get there bearings together as a team. “We won. It was much, much better. We always knew we were [going to] be a good sevens team, but all it took was one game and the coach from UC Riverside thought we have been playing games before in the season despite that night was the first game in the season,” said Whyte. Overall, the tournament was quite a success for the team, as they were able to pull together and build their chemistry. 

In the week prior to the small tournament, the team focused on the fundamentals of the sport. Going through the different plays the team runs, the do’s and don’ts of the game, ball-handling, how to tackle, and even some inter-squad scrimmages. “A vital part for me was that inter-squad scrimmage-especially coming off of an injury that kind of let me see where I was at, personally, and see where the other guys are at,” said Tiscareño. “It looked pretty promising with the talent and skills we have within the team, so that last week right before the games was a real vital part to see where we are at and [if] we would hold up against teams in the division.”

The team is also currently looking towards next year to add to their already strong team. “I think as a club it’s always the same questions: How are we going to recruit new guys? I think that Whittier College is just such a good ground for everything that people are always willing to come out and try a sport, even if it’s their first time trying it out,” said third-year Forward Anthony Nelson. The team also spoke about trying to plan ahead and get more games throughout their season. As for growth for the current team, what seems to be going through everyone’s mind right now is getting serious practices and working hard during it, but as far as potential for the team, everyone is in agreement that what the team lacks in experience they make up for in athleticism and strategy. 

The Whittier College Rugby Club’s next game on May 4 against UC Irvine will be in Whittier.