Rugby competes for over 20 years

Lucas Snider

The USI men’s rugby team has competed against other schools for over 20 years. The one problem is that the team has not really gotten the recognition for it.

“I don’t think a lot of students know about it,” rugby President Tyler Pipes said. “If they do know about it, I don’t think they know how serious we are. We play other colleges, most bigger than us.”

But that has not kept Pipe’s squad from dominating the competition.

“Our first two matches went extremely well,” he said. “We beat Western Kentucky 36-5 and then Depauw 59-12. I expect that we’ll keep up the intensity and dominate our conference.”

Rugby is a sport characterized by the type of intensity that Pipes speaks of. It involves whatever physical contact a player finds necessary. The rules, referred to as “laws” in rugby, allow no pads or blocking. A match is played in two continuous, 40-minute halves, and no time outs are permitted.

“It’s an extremely aggressive game,” sophomore Vice President Justin Mizen said. “During a game you can get the crap kicked out of you, but you always respect the other team.”

According to the team website, USI’s first rugby club was founded in the late 1980s by former head coach Al Brenner. Since then the team has experienced intermittent periods of growth and decline.

“The team has a long history,” head coach Kurt Murrell said. “After a period of good rugby, we struggled to find enough players. About six years ago, recent graduates Jeff Russell, Trent Miller, Zach Schilling and Vince Davey put great effort into raising the standard of rugby at USI.”

These are among the first USI players that Murrell coached, nearly six years ago.

“Their efforts provided the foundation for the club’s recent success,” he said.

Murrell, originally from New Jersey, has been playing rugby since 1979.

“At that time I was still playing college football for Hofstra University, so I only played rugby in the spring,” he said. “I played with a men’s team in Manhattan and was exposed to very experienced coaches and players.”

According to Mizen, Murrell’s extensive experience provides good guidance for the team.

“He has brought this club to an incredible level with his coaching style,” Mizen said. “We just keep getting better.”

The rugby team’s next match will be against Indiana State University at noon Saturday at the Intramural and Recreation Field.