Club rugby ready for a new reputation

Doug Gulasy

Team looks to bring foreign sport past negative publicity and gain popularity at Kent State, in U.S.

LESLIE CUSANO | DAILY KENT STATER The Kent State club rugby team looks to shed rugby’s bad reputation and gain recruits for their upcoming season.

Credit: Adam Griffiths

Perhaps the biggest scrum for the Kent State rugby team is not with an opposing team, but with the sport’s negative image.

Head coach John Harris said rugby and its players are often portrayed in a negative light.

“Rugby does seem to get bad press nationally,” Harris said. “People always seem to equate rugby with bad behavior.”

The club rugby team is hoping to shed that bad reputation by promoting the sport’s good qualities in order to gain recruits for its upcoming season.

Those involved with the team said the positives of rugby outweigh the negatives. One particular positive aspect that club captain Colin Ginley wanted to emphasize was the bond that rugby teams often share.

“There’s a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood when you play rugby,” Ginley said. Friendships are built quickly because of everything the team goes through together.”

Forwards coach Adam Rapp said students should consider joining clubs or activities, such as the rugby team, to become more involved within the university.

“Part of college is having fun,” Rapp said. “Playing rugby can give people a chance to do some networking and try some new things.”

Although rugby is important in his native Wales, where the sport is followed closely and “players are celebrities,” Harris said it hasn’t caught on in America, due largely to its foreign image.

“When America tried to define itself, it invented its own sports,” he said. “Most sports that are seen as un-American, such as rugby or soccer, have suffered as a result.”

Rapp said even though rugby hasn’t completely caught on in America, people are still intrigued and interested by the sport.

“Whenever you mention rugby to someone, they raise an eyebrow,” he said. “It’s a sport that people don’t know a lot about, but they want to know more.”

Because football developed from rugby, the sport often attracts former football players. There are certain differences between the sports, however, differences Ginley said are positive.

“Rugby is a more nonstop and fast-paced game than football, and there are more elements to it,” he said. “Anyone can pass the ball to anyone on the field, anybody can run the ball and anyone can kick it.”

Rugby is also a game with little physical limitations, allowing for all types of players to play.

“There’s a position for every shape and size,” Ginley said.

The Rugby team also has to do its own fundraising, including working the concession stand at Cleveland Browns home games.

“Rugby players are the pure student-athletes,” Harris said. “They put an incredible effort into everything, from practicing to fundraising.”

Although rugby players do not receive scholarships, Ginley said he plays “for the love of the game.”

“I played rugby in my senior year of high school, and I just wanted to keep playing,” he said. “It was a way to do some networking in college.”

The team competes against other club programs from colleges around the nation, including Mid-American Conference rivals such as Ohio and Miami.

Rapp said interested players should “bring a pair of shoes and shorts” to one of the team’s practices on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30 at the Kent State Field House. More information on the team is also available at

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].