Rugby is a culture. It is a gentleman’s sport where you play for the sake of loving the game over the glory of winning the game. This was put on perfect display during the Keene State men’s rugby home game on April 6 against Saint Michael’s College.
John Johannesen, head coach for the men’s rugby team as well as a carpenter and locksmith for Keene State College, sat down and explained the situation that presented itself at the game.
“[There were] a lot of young guys on [Saint Michael’s] team and not a lot of front row trained guys, so they had a lot of replacements in the backfield, but they didn’t have a whole lot of replacements for the front pack, which is eight guys.”
Johannesen, after realizing the issue facing the opposing team, decided to offer up some of Keene’s own players to switch their jerseys from red and white to purple and play for Saint Michael’s against their own teammates.
“The culture of rugby is that it is just the game, it doesn’t matter what team you are on, you just want to play the game to get better at it and it doesn’t matter if you are going against your own team or another team,” Johannesen said.
Kyle Carroll, a sophomore at Keene State majoring in safety, was one of the four Keene players who played for Saint Michael’s during their Saturday game. “As a rookie on the team I’m looking for as much opportunity as I can to play, so when coach told us the other team needed help for a couple extra spots I volunteered quick…” said Carroll when asked about his reasoning for offering up to play for the other team.
Tommy Cressey, another sophomore majoring in environmental studies, explained that he volunteered because “rugby is a gentleman’s sport, so when the other team needed some extra players,” he offered himself up. “It was way more fun to tackle my teammates then to tackle kids I don’t know,” Cressey added with a smile on his face.
Viking Bartlett, a Keene State freshman majoring in safety, had a similar reaction to getting to play against his own teammates. Bartlett said, “It was a lot of fun because… we are really good friends anyway so it’s always fun to try and take each other down.”
Alec Drummond, the vice president of the rugby team, also volunteered to play on the Saint Michael’s team.
Johannesen said, “It shows the testament, we had guys that had never played before… Kyle just picked it up with us this spring and he wanted to give it a go… right down to Alec, our vice president, who subbed out at the half… and he was out for about five minutes and then [Saint Michael’s] lost another front row player… and he jumped right in and it just shows, that’s a veteran player…”
The final score was Keene State 74, Saint Michael’s 7.
Claire Boughton can be contacted