With almost half of the Rugby team returning from the previous fall and spring season, the outcome for this upcoming season is hopeful.
Though the team has struggled for practice time over the course of the winter and has had to overcome injuries, its players and their coach feel the team will compete well in upcoming matches.
Rugby is an up-and-coming team sport that Central Oregon Community College adopted five years ago in 2012. In addition to the spring season, the rugby club also participates in a fall/winter season.
“I think we have some new talent that will really help us out this year. Our team is mostly freshman, but we have some good size and a lot of speed,” said rugby club president, Kaliah Marks. He also mentioned that the commissioner is reinforcing rules for alumni playing in large teams like SOU, which will be an advantage for the COCC rugby club.
Some returning players include students like Bryan Chavez, sophomore; Skyler Paulson, junior; Zach Ferguson, sophomore, Angel Rios, sophomore; Ryan Davis, junior; Josh Garrett, senior; and Kaliah Marks, sophomore.
“I fell in love with [rugby] the first season and haven’t stopped playing since,” said Marks. Marks recently suffered from an injury over the summer, but he is still optimistic.
“I tore my right ACL playing with the men’s team last July. I think it will make me a little more hesitant at the beginning of the season but I’m on track for a full recovery so it should be fine,” he said.
The biggest challenge Marks has discovered is learning how to kick with his less dominant foot. Despite the challenge, he continues to look at the bright side knowing that once he is fully recovered he will be able to kick with both.
“Most of the Northwest is changing their schedule,” state rugby coach, Woody Bennett. Even though the weather has affected practice, Bennett remains hopeful for their season.
Instead of being able to practice outside during the cold, snowy days the team has been using Mazama Gym on Fridays and Saturdays for practice time.
Bennett voiced his concerns: “It’s not like the field, you can’t tackle on wood.”
Over the last fall season, the club was not as successful with their matches, but Bennett explains why: “A community college [rugby team] is different, they’re going back to work, finishing up an associate degree, transferring, so the turnover [of players] is constant.”
“They’re young, they’re enthusiastic, there’s some real talent here,” he said.
Five matches will be held before the playoffs on April 15th which is called the North West Cup.
The Rugby Club’s first match on Feb. 25 playing against the University of Oregon’s second string team. The home games will include matches against OIT on March 18 and University of Idaho on Apr. l8.
The remaining matches will be held in Ashland on March 4th and Willamette University on March 11.
Katya Agatucci | The Broadside