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Early to rise helps rugby players shine

September 29, 2007

It’s 6 a.m. and it’s barely light out. The cool morning is enough to take your breath away and the grass is still wet from the night before. While a majority of UW-River Falls students are still asleep, the women’s rugby team is starting their day at that early hour.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays the women’s team practices from 6 a.m. along with a third practice Thursdays at 5 p.m. They also run at various times throughout the week, in between classes and homework.

“It’s amazing how even though it is still dark out when we start to have practice we have more girls now then at the end of last season,” senior Katie Nelson said. “There is nothing better than starting your day with a little bit of rugby and watching the sun come up. It is by far the best part of my day.”

The men’s rugby team has weekly meetings Mondays at 5 p.m. and practice from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday thru Thursday.

Both the men’s and women’s teams usually play games on Saturdays.

This season there are a lot of new faces on both teams, but they have adjusted well to the grueling schedule that follows being a member of college rugby.

“We have a lot of new rookies this year on the team and they have shown great commitment,” senior Tyler Stevens said. “Now we just have to work on working together as a team and improving our cohesiveness so we can stop making mistakes.”

The men’s team is improving and looking stronger every week.

“So far we have played very close games, but we haven’t pulled off a win yet because of combined mistakes, but our teamwork is getting better every game and once we bring it all together we will have a solid team,” Stevens said.

Stevens noted there were some key differences between last season and this season.

“The biggest difference between last year and this year is that we lost some of the key figures on the team,” Stevens said. “We have a lot of rookies who are for the most part learning the game.”

The women’s team has grown up a lot since their first game.

“As of right now we have played in four games,” Nelson said.  “From game to game I can definitely see an improvement in each of our player’s skill. Once the girls become more comfortable with the sport and the rules you can tell they really love the game.”

But to some members of the team, rugby is more than just a game.

“Rugby has been the best experience in my college life,” Nelson said. “The girls have been there for me through thick and thin. Sure there are disagreements, but we get over them because we are family. I am scheduled to graduate in May but am seriously considering taking an extra semester so I can play rugby for one more season.”

Both teams are always looking for new members and students who are interested can check out any of the practices to see what rugby’s all about.

While many people may think rugby is a rough game where people get hurt all the time, there is more to it than that.

“One thing people may not realize about women’s rugby is that it is a close-knit family of some pretty kick ass girls,” Nelson said. “When ever I have a problem I know I could call up anyone of my girls and they would be right there to help me, and I would do the same for them. Another thing people may not know about rugby as it isn’t as hard as it looks.”

The women’s team is at home this weekend against Mankato. The game starts at noon Saturday at the Intramural Fields.