Men's rugby team looks forward to spring seasonBy Danielle Walker | 11/11/2013 11:00pm
In a school centered around Nick Saban and football, the club rugby team often goes by unnoticed.
“What most people don’t know is football developed from rugby,” said Nick Byrne, a junior majoring in journalism and an inside center on the club rugby team. “It’s the fastest growing team sport in the country right now, and all SEC schools have a rugby team. It’s pretty exciting.”
This past weekend, the men’s club rugby team competed in the annual Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Sevens Championship tournament in Knoxville, Tenn. They placed sixth out of 12 teams, losing to Florida and Auburn, who went on to win the championship. The team placed sixth last year as well.
The team has seen success in its conference in previous years, most recent being named the 2007 Deep South Champions. It has never made it to the rugby national championship but has made it to the SEC final four.
Alabama rugby was founded in 1973 by a group of students looking for something different to do. Byrne said the club team has been growing ever since. The team now boasts more than 40 members.
The rugby team’s 40th anniversary, which is this year, hasn’t been celebrated yet, but Byrne said they plan to dedicate their usual end-of-the-year party to the anniversary.
Because rugby is considered a violent sport, the team doesn’t hold official tryouts because the nature of the full-contact sport tends to weed out most people. The club is open to anyone interested in joining.
The team practices and competes year-round. Its competitive season is in the spring, while the fall is spent preparing for the spring games.
Byrne said the team has grown in size and skill level since he arrived at the University, and he hopes it will continue to have great success.
“We have 40-plus guys on our team that are just devoted to making Alabama rugby a team that the school can be proud of and the team that we can be proud of as players,” Byrne said. “We continue to get better every year, and we’re confident about our potential for this upcoming season. We’re hoping to win an SEC championship and go on to nationals.”
The rugby team will be on the road this weekend playing Mississippi State on Friday and Memphis on Saturday.