After last year’s suspension, team prepares for future
As the cheering and excitement grew louder from teammates as freshman Christian Conde sprinted down the field, ball in-hand, toward the goal line to score a try in practice on March 6, the dawning of a new era in UNLV men’s rugby had begun.
The men’s rugby club, beginning anew after sitting out all of last season due to suspension for not turning in proper travel forms, offers an opportunity for UNLV students to try out for the team. Conde has taken advantage of one of several openings on the team, and encourages others to do the same.
“It is an immense honor to be able to be on the team and to represent an entire university,” Conde said. “I’m excited for other players to come out and join.”
The club is a relatively young team with mostly freshmen and sophomores on the roster. Head coach Bruce Tolley welcomes new players even if they have no experience with the sport, who can also join the roster as official supporters of the team.
“I’m looking for somebody that is a good sport, can take a joke and wants to excel. Somebody that is enthusiastic and energetic,” Tolley said. “They don’t have to be overly athletic, they just have to be willing to learn and to try to improve themselves every time they come to training.”
The club practices every Tuesday and Thursday from 7-9 p.m. There are currently 18 players on the roster and the team is looking for 25 to 35 players total.
Tolley said the team belongs to the USA Rugby organization and that they will begin traveling to compete across several states in Fall 2013. The team also has plans to join the Southern California Union next year.
“You have to have the initiative to come out here and stick with it,” club President Anthony Pawlson said.
Pawlson said prospective players should have a balanced combination of size and strength. In addition, courage, devotion and resilience are key characteristics in a good rugby player.
Conde believes that having quick players on the team will make the roster more multidimensional.
“It’s not all strength,” Conde said. “You need some really speedy guys and some really big guys to support you.”
There are 15 positions on the field that suit certain skill sets and body types, generally leading to players specializing in one or two positions.
“We practice hard every time we come out to the field in an effort to get better each time,” Vice President Lino Ramos IV said.
Ramos IV is eager to teach the newcomers his knowledge of the sport and help the team adjust to the pace of the sport. The team has shown tremendous effort to get prospective players excited about the potential of earning a roster spot this season.
“I do make an effort to recruit players and to keep players interested and educate them how to have a better experience when they come out and play,” Pawlson said.
Pawlson and his teammates agree that their club is held to high expectations. In order to be successful, existing players feel accountable to present their club in a positive light.
The club team has the right mindset to be great. All that’s needed now is a complete roster.