Men’s Rugby: Ready to Fight, Ready to Win

Photo by Annette Griffin  ()

Photo by Annette Griffin ()

Early Saturday afternoons are usually a relatively quiet time on campus, with students sleeping off a busy or hazy Friday night. But from the far end of the Bryan parking lot, a rumbling disturbance can be heard.The sound of drums and shouts, and the smell of sweat and blood fill the air. It’s rugby season once again at Guilford.

“Everybody is working hard and wants to win,” said junior Dan Jimenez. “We’re not some podunk team; we’re an actual team and team to be reckoned with.”

The men’s team is looking to improve after last year’s turnaround season, and things seem to be going in that direction. The addition of several new players has invigorated the veterans.

“We’ve got a lot of new guys who haven’t played much, but have played really well,” said junior and team captain Chris Pugliese.

Jimenez, who’s in his first season with the team, commented on being new and on the pitch.

“Just being a first-year player, I didn’t know we were going against these big guys,” said Jimenez. “Initially, I thought we’d get dominated. But we keep up with these big schools. We beat them.”

The rugby team is coming off a big victory against rival Wake Forest last Saturday, a huge feat both physically and mentally.

The team has a tough schedule this season, playing such schools as UNC-Charlotte, Duke and Elon; but it’s a challenge that the team is ready for. The consensus is that these guys are playing to win.

And while the game is being played on the field, the scene on the sideline is just as rowdy. Chanting, cheering, and the occasional African drum rile up both fans and players alike. And of course, what kind of rugby game would it be without a bit of heckling towards the opposing squad.

The heckling is usually all in good fun, however, the aggression is left on the field. Once the game is over, the two teams have a social and share a pint of beer in the tradition of gentlemanly sportsmanship.

One pint often turns into several and before you know it, you’re having a raging good time. And all by three in the afternoon!

“The rugby social is customary to show that it’s just a game,” said junior and veteran player Morgan Kerr. “The home team buys beer and shows the visitors a good time. After kicking the crap out of each other for 80 minutes, it’s good to be able to laugh about it.”

But booze aside, the players are excited about this season. And the fans have a lot to look forward to, according to Pugliese.

“We have the potential to do better than Guilford has done in the last 20 years,” said Pugliese. “We’re no longer just a social club. We want to win.