Club Sport of the Week: Men’s Rugby

Rugby is not a game for the light-hearted. It is a game that builds and tests a person’s character and spirit. Many people believe that rugby was born in 1823 when William Ellis disregarded the rules of football and “first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the rugby game” (as found on a commemorative stone at Rugby School). However, the first team was formed by Arthur Pell at Cambridge in 1839. Soon after, the Rugby Football Union was founded in a London hostelry, with one of the team representatives missing due to the fact that he got drunk in the wrong pub.

The idea of a Rugby World Cup was first brought up in 1979, but was not implemented until 1987 (in order to avoid a conflict with the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup). There was a vote between the eight members of the International Rugby Football Board (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales) before the match was confirmed – Ireland and Scotland both voted against the proposal because it appeared to threaten the amateur status of the sport. France was only in favor if countries outside of the International Rugby Football Board (IFRB) were able to participate. South Africa was not allowed to take part in the tournament, as they were the subject of an international sports boycott because of the apartheid regime.

When the first World Cup was finally arranged, Argentina, Figi, Tonga, Japan, Canada, Romania, Zimbabwe, Italy, and the US were invited to attend the 16-team elimination tournament in 1987. The inaugural match was between New Zealand and Italy in Auckland. New Zealand won the match easily, with a final score of 70-6. This match had 600,000 people in attendance, with 300 million in 17 countries watching on television. Today, those numbers have increased to 2.25 million and four billion in 200 territories (respectively) for the 2007 World Cup. The World Cup is now the third largest sporting event behind the Olympic Game and the FIFA World Cup.

The CSM Men’s Rugby program was the first rugby team in the state of Colorado. They have been ranked in the US Top 10 Division II for the last three seasons, with a trip to Nationals in Florida last semester. The team has 35 players (mostly freshmen, sophomores, and juniors). Although they are not actively looking for new members, interested athletes are welcome to join practices on MWF from 4:00 to 6:00 PM on IM North. The team competes in the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) and in the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union (ERRFU). The home games are played on the IM North Field on Saturday’s at 1:00 PM. The team just beat Red Rocks CC on September 29 in their opening match with a score of 63-0! They will be playing Colorado College on Saturday, October 20 and Mesa State on Saturday, October 27 in Grand Junction.

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