The Pittsburg State University men’s rugby team had their first match of the season on Thursday, Sept. 12. The Gorillas lost the game (34-0). They bounced back with a win against John Brown University (JBU) on Saturday, Sept. 14 (46-41).
The game against Springfield Men’s Club was the opening match of the 2019 season for men’s rugby and according to club president and senior in communication Ivan Walter, their opponents had much more experienced players.
“It was our first game of the season so there were a lot of new guys learning new rules,” Walter said. “I think we played well. I just think we weren’t as prepared as we should have been. And playing against a men’s club, they’ve been playing there for who knows how long, a long time. So, they were just really solid fundamentally, team wise they knew what they wanted to do. And even though we made big plays, they just wore us down.”
As with the beginning of the season for most sports, there were a lot of new players on the team with little experience in playing rugby. Despite this, Walter believes the team played well and was very focused during the game against Springfield Men’s Club.
“… We definitely played very hard, very intense,” Walter said. “None of our players got scared, everybody seemed like they were ready for the game. But it just showed how inexperienced we were. But I saw a lot of solid things in the game.”
It is not uncommon to see players from any sports team branch out to other sports during the off season or take on more than one sport at a time. A few players on the Pitt State men’s rugby team have experience in other sports. Because of this, they are used to practicing and playing in those sports, but no two sports are exactly alike and according to Walter, the team needs to work on conditioning and getting used to being rugby players.
“… I think something we need to work on is definitely just conditioning. A lot of guys played football, or they wrestled, and rugby is long, it is continuous, it is 80 minutes. It’s kind of like soccer. So, a lot of those guys were sort of used to that short burst of 30 seconds of playing football and then getting a break and then going again, so (we will) definitely (be) working on conditioning (and) getting people accustomed to constantly moving even if it’s not full sprints, just (getting them use to) doing a lot of running.”
The rugby team’s next game is against the Wichita Barbarians on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
“I hope we can keep the ball rolling,” Walter said. “We looked really good against JBU at times, but we also had our slip ups… But, I’m really excited to see how we grow and how we bounce back after a comeback win and just got to keep the ball rolling.”