This past fall Castleton’s oldest club, men’s rugby club, could not field a team because of a lack of players.
A typical team needs over 20 players for a match and this year the team had half that. The shortage can be attributed in part to the fact that there were many seniors on last year’s team who graduated and couldn’t come back.
Players said the club has been dealing with this issue for many years now, but this is the first time that it really affected them to the point of not allowing them to take the field.
The captain, president, and the coach of the men’s rugby squad is Kinyenje Ngigi. He is a junior and he is trying to stir up interest among the student body.
“It’s a lot on my plate because on top of that I also coach the woman’s team too. But it’s all for the love of the sport,” Ngigi said.
The team can’t be too picky with recruits, but there are certain attributes that would be good to have, according to Ngigi.
“We are looking for players with decent fitness levels and they have to have the ability to catch a ball,” Ngigi said. “Mostly you really just need to have the heart. The reason most people shy away from rugby is that they don’t understand the sport. They don’t give it a chance and quit before the fun starts.”
Jackie Jillett has been playing football for most of his life and continues to play here at Castleton. Rugby doesn’t really sound fun to him.
“I think that not wearing a helmet would make me not want to play. Even though I know they learn how to tackle without helmets I would still be uncomfortable with that,” he said.
Damian Peatman, a sophomore, played rugby for the first time his freshman year.
“Overall if you are dedicated and care enough to learn the sport then you should be fine,” he said. “I loved playing. The only reason I had to stop was because of a nagging shoulder injury that just don’t seem to go away.”
Peatman played football throughout high school and thought his skills translated very well onto the rugby field. He liked the camaraderie too.
“When I joined the team everybody was very friendly and inviting” he said. “I had only gone to a couple practices before my first match, so I was a little worried about my knowledge of the game. After the game was over I still didn’t know much but I knew I was having fun.”
Rugby isn’t just about the sport, it’s about the relationships you build with your competitors and teammates, players said.
“It’s always a brotherhood. There is something about working hard with your teammates that is so gratifying,” Ngigi stated.
He urged those who might be interested in trying out rugby not to be afraid to give it a shot.
“It’s the greatest sport in the world, 15 people working together to complete the ultimate goal, victory. Come join us in our journey.”