This week I want to write about one of the many student clubs on campus you can participate in, the Manhattanville Rugby Club. Maybe some of you have already heard of it or even seen one of the games. Rugby is a full contact sport but in contrast to for example, football, the players are not wearing any protective gear. The game is basically about possession of the field, but too complicated to explain it completely here. Everyone who is interested should see a game. I joined the team myself one month ago and so far it has been a great experience. Even though we are just a club, the rugby team is very professional. We have got a trainer and a coach, jerseys, and in the spring season we will be playing a regular season with scheduled games. So far, approximately 30 students are part of the team. To show you how it is to play rugby at Manhattanville College, I will tell you how a regular rugby player's week looks like.
The week begins with a Monday night practice, normally conditioning, which lasts about 2 hours. We usually have to do circle training with different exercises containing, for example, tire flipping, hurdle jumping or sled pushing. While one player is doing the circle the rest of the team is doing exercises like crunches and mountain climbers at the sideline.
The next practice is on Wednesday night at Damman Field. Instead of conditioning, we are running drills for two hours. In detail, we are practicing tactics and movements we are using in our games, for example, passing the ball through the attack lines, kickoff returns or lineouts. Furthermore, we have to hit bags to improve our tackling skills which are inevitable for playing rugby. The most important thing to do if you want to perform a tackle is to get low. It is very hard to bring another player down if you hit him on the chest, therefore you have to tackle him lower, hold tight on him and slide down on his legs. The opponent is most likely to go down if a tackle is performed correctly like that.
The last training of the week is on Friday morning before class at 8.00 Am. It is a mix of conditioning and revising the things we have learned before. In specific, we sometimes have to just run to Purchase and back which is about 5 miles, or run some more drills. It is sometimes very hard to get up at this time, but at least wakes you up before class. In addition, every player has to lift in order to become better conditioned for the games. We have to go to the Kennedy Gym at least two times per week and do a special rugby workout.
On the weekend we have to show what we have learned during our practices. Normally we are playing at least one game every weekend. So far we played the White Plains team, Iona College and Fordham University. The games last 80 minutes and are usually pretty rough. Every a player has at least some bruises after a game and injuries like concussions are not unusual.
To summarize, to be part of the Manhattanville Rugby team is a lot of work and can be pretty painful, but the benefits outnumber the negatives by far. Rugby is a very fun game which you should play if you like to become physical and show your strength. Furthermore, we have got a great team atmosphere and are also doing things together when we are not on the field.
By Finn Bauer, Fall 2012 ELI Student from Germany