‘Come out on top’

One of the first things Jordan Cravens did when he started at USI was join the rugby team.

The senior knew someone from high school who was on the team and during a tabling under breezeway in the University Center he signed up.

“Here I am five years later,” he said.

Cravens, the president of the rugby club, said the sport was completely different than anything he had ever done.

He wrestled and played baseball, but he never played football to have had previous experience with that type of contact sport. Cravens said the team atmosphere really helped draw him to the team.

“It’s different than other sports,” he said. “It’s closer connected.”

Cravens said he was never the best at making friends quickly in high school, but the entire rugby team was “extremely welcoming.”

“I developed friendships here that I can honestly say I think I will have the rest of my life,” Cravens said.

Junior Dave Lepp said he was drawn to the comradery on the team as well.

“We have a pretty accepting group,” the vice president said.

Lepp said rugby is probably the most fun wwwhe has had playing a sport. He said the easiest way to get involved is just come out and attend a practice.

Cravens said one issue he has had to deal with so far is making sure that older players and new players are able to play cohesively.

“As you can imagine it’s rough sport,” he said. “Tensions can get a little heated, sometimes it can be frustrating dealing with new players.”

He said he will sit down with players and explain that everyone is transitioning right now and the best way to handle it is to help instead of criticize. So far it has been working well for the team, he said.

The team’s focus will be on ending their season as national champions this year.

Last year rugby made it to the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) Final Four for the first time in the team’s history. It left the finals third in the nation and Cravens said this year the players expect to go back and win it all.

The team is 2-0 this season having played Ball State University and Indiana University.

Cravens said one issue the team has on the pitch is a tendency to “play down” to its competition.

“It causes for a lot more stress and closer matches than we should have with lesser competition,” he said. “If we stay focused we should be able to come out on top.”