Rugby team aims for nationalsBy Danielle Walker | 02/12/2014 11:00pm
Coming off of a successful, winning season last year, the Alabama men’s rugby team is looking to build on its success and take its team to the next level this season.
Alabama is already 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern conference. Within the SEC, the team has beat Mississippi State and Auburn University, which puts it right where it wants to be, senior George Rowen said.
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The team will take on South Carolina at 11 a.m. o Saturday at the UA recreation fields. It will be the team’s first home game of the season and possibly one of its biggest games. South Carolina is also undefeated in conference play.
“We’re both undefeated in the SEC this season and it’s looking like South Carolina will be the team to beat from the Eastern Division after a close win against a strong Florida squad,” club president and senior Simon Bedoya said. “This will be a great test for us to see how we match up against a quality opponent and point out the flaws in our game that we need to fix as we continue through the season.”
For games against South Carolina and other opponents, the men’s rugby team has been preparing since the fall semester. The players work on team chemistry, defense and conditioning. The team practices four times a week and is expected to work in the gym every day.
“Defense is going to be a big focus this week; our offense is starting to click as we get used to our new system, but in order to beat the better teams, it always depends on your teams ability to play solid defense,” Bedoya said.
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One of the advantages that Alabama has over its opponents is how well-conditioned everyone on the team is.
“I think we’ve been working really hard this season to make sure that we’re well conditioned and in shape and it’s shown in our past few games,” junior Nick Byrne said. “By the end of the game, the other team’s dragging and we’re flying around the field, so our conditioning has definitely paid off.”
Senior Tyler Hoffman said the conditioning and athletic ability that the sport requires is something that he loves about the sport.
“I enjoy rugby because it promotes a pure meaning towards fitness,” Hoffman said. “Rugby demands players to be strong, fast, athletic and the pace of the game requires cardiovascular endurance.”
Byrne said team chemistry is huge for the rugby team, and while it’s hard to achieve in a collegiate program, this team places a huge emphasis on chemistry on the field.
“Chemistry is a big part of our success this season,” Bedoya said. “Most of our players have been playing on the field together now for a couple of years so we understand what each teammate is going to do in a given situation.”
(See also "Club rugby team strives for chemistry")
The team has been doing great so far, but the players know they can’t lose focus of their ultimate goal.
“We’ve had great success so far but we need to continue improving if we want to reach our ultimate goal of completing at nationals,” Bedoya said.
The team posts updates on game locations and times as well as scores on its Facebook and Twitter, @AlabamaRugby.