COVID-19 has been rough for everyone and student-athletes have especially been affected greatly.
One of the offered club sports to still be in session this fall is rugby. Men’s and women’s rugby has been practicing for some time now and most people would ask, how?
Rugby is a very physical sport and its physicality is what garners much of its fame. This alone doesn’t scream COVID safe and rugby would seem like the least likely out of all possible college sports to be in session right now. But the school has worked very closely with its student-athletes and it has paid off.
Megan Rogers, senior and president of the women’s rugby team, said, “The school has done a good job of letting us do what we want to do with a good plan in place. Right now there are groups of three in practice, soon to be groups of five. Overall, the school has done a good job of last-minute planning and I have good communication with those involved.”
The next question becomes how will games take place?
John Johannesen, club advisor and assistant coach, said, “As of now there is no chance of competition between clubs.”
With games no longer an option for the rugby team, they are still training and trying to improve themselves. When asked about what the steps to get the team together had looked like, Johannesen said, “The steps to get the team together on the field have revolved around testing, distance and tracking. Each day the president of the club takes a list of participating players, checks temperatures and verifies that all are well. The team had to practice in groups of three and the groups separated by six feet for two weeks. Then we could move to groups of 10 starting this week. All drills are still non-contact and working on conditioning and skills.”
Part of having a successful team is a lot about morale and having high spirits during a time like this which is not something that comes easy.
When asked about the collective morale of the team, Rogers said, “[It is] better than I thought it would be. I’m excited that we can even do anything. I’m excited to see other teammates, underclassmen, like to see older classmen were all really close.”
While the well-being of student-athletes is obviously the thing that is most discussed, the party that is not often thought about or considered is coaches. Ely Thayer, head coach of the men’s rugby team, talked about how coaching has been during times like these.
“Coaching during this pandemic has certainly been a different experience both for me and the players,” Thayer explained. “There is no immediate goal in sight or specific win that we are working towards. From the beginning of the season, I set the precedent that this year would be all about working on our ‘soft’ or more technical skills. This season has allowed us to dive deeper into more rugby theory on how to create mismatches and work together on defense. Rather than a specific game or goal to work towards, it has allowed the players to find their own goals for the semester and work towards accomplishing what means the most to them as a player and student of the game.”
Joseph Fletcher, a senior member on the men’s team, explained that even with the odd circumstances he still looks forward to a good season.
“[The] future is definitely looking bright,” said Fletcher. “Although we don’t have any games this semester, we have been working hard in practice and getting the underclassmen ready for next season. We’ve had guys from Major League Rugby come and practice with us which has been a great learning experience. We feel well-coached and extremely conditioned. By the time spring season [comes around] and we have some competition to play, our team is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Cole Gesin can be contacted at