Lack of consistent participation has caused slow start in 2017
Not many people at Oregon State know much about the sport rugby, let alone that we have a Division-1AA rugby team here at Oregon State.
The Oregon State men’s rugby program is in their 56th year in existence. Coach Mark Weber has been the team’s head coach for 35 of those years. Coach Troy, the team’s assistant coach, is a professional rugby player from New Zealand. He grew up with rugby, as it is like a religion back in New Zealand.
“In New Zealand, rugby is the most popular sport there,” Coach Troy says. “Everyone, even all the kids, follow the professional rugby team — All Blacks. I guess you could compare it to how football is in America.”
The team is struggling this season, losing their first two games of the season. They have only about 20 consistent players, and they keep losing key players due to injury. Although this is a high division team, any student at Oregon State can come out and play.
“It’s been a little rough,” said Weber. “It’s a rebuilding situation right now. We were originally in the top 20 teams in the country, and now we’re just trying to rebuild. There’s only so much you can do when you have as many injuries as we have, with such a low number of players like we have.”
Both Coach Weber and Coach Troy would like any Oregon State student to know that they are more than welcome to come to practice and join the team. Practices are held Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on the fields at Student Legacy Park from 6-8 p.m.
“We’re just trying to get kids to come out to the field and learn the game,” said Weber. “Have some fun! Everybody plays, so please don’t be afraid to come out to practice.
“It’s amazing where these kids can go, just by playing rugby here at Oregon State,” Weber continued. “I had a player play for the World Cup against New Zealand, and he never even knew what rugby was before playing here.”
The history and sense of camaraderie rugby has is why people tend to fall in love with the game. There is a tradition where, after every rugby match, the members of each team get together for a social.
“Oh, the socials are the best part,” said senior fullback Alex Abshere. “You get to meet so many great guys. I would say being on a rugby team is a lot like being in a fraternity, but it’s better because all of you are passionate about the same game.”
“Usually the boys get together after the game, for a social,” said Coach Troy. “One team brings food, the other team brings some more food, and they just socialize and eat together. It’s not a ‘play-and-leave’ kind of game; you stick around, and build relationships with your opponents.”
The alumni association for the Oregon State men’s rugby team is a very committed group. Every five years, the team is able to fly abroad and compete in different European countries.
“We have an alumni association that roughly raises $50,000 a year for these boys,” said Weber. “I’ve been able to take the team to Ireland, Scotland, anywhere overseas about every five years.”
If you would like to join the rugby team, contact Coach Mark Weber at: [email protected] or just show up to practice.