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Club rugby team prepares for future, set for Saint Patrick’s Day Tournament

Written by Alex Tostado 

 

The Valdosta State Rugby Club team will head to Savannah relying on more than just St. Patrick’s luck.

The team is preparing to participate in their third St. Patrick’s Day tournament, and they are looking to win the tournament too.

“I think with the team we have put out this semester that we are strong, we are fast and we are getting better each game,” Derrick Howard, captain and founder of the team, said.

The team will travel to the coast on March 16 and play in the tournament which lasts until March 17.

“We are looking good,” Howard said. “I think we are going to go in and not lose a game. I think we are a force to be reckoned with.”

Admittedly, the rugby team has a lot of growing to do, and the team is still in the process of learning the game.

“When you play against men’s teams, a huge chunk of their team is smart, and they don’t make dumb decisions,” Howard said. “We are just lucky that we are so young and fit and athletic that we often make up for our mistakes.”

Besides having young members, another problem the team faces is not having an authoritative figure.

“One of our biggest issues is we need to find a coach,” Howard said. “It’s not easy being a player-coach.”

The next issue facing the team is recruitment. Howard will be leaving VSU in the fall and is concerned for the team’s future.

“My main goal is to focus on recruitment and making sure that it grows when I leave,” Howard said. “We are kind of in the replacement stage of our leadership.”

Howard decided to form a VSU rugby team after he spent a summer playing with the Augusta Rugby Club.

“They made me fall in love with rugby,” Howard said.  “After I came back to school that fall, I was thinking ‘Why don’t we have a team? This is something that is awesome, so I’m going to make a sport that I can play at my school.’ It started out as five guys on the front lawn and then it grew, and now we have about 40 players on the team.”

The rugby team is always accepting new members from beginners to advanced players. They practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. at the North Campus field.

“Anybody (can) come out and play,” Howard said. “It’s not really a try-out team. It’s also a lot of fun to come out and watch.”

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