The Toughest Club on Campus

How do other sports compare to the toughness of rugby? The simple answer, according to Ted Adatto, is, they don’t. “Not even comparable,” said Adatto, the rugby club’s co-captain. “The level of conditioning is equal to soccer. It’s an 80 minute game that doesn’t stop, and there are hits every couple of seconds whether or not you’re carrying the ball.” As one can easily see, rugby is not a sport for just anyone. Fortunately for UVM, there are those within the student body that are tough enough and athletic enough to engage in the sport; and they succeed in doing so. Last fall the rugby club finished amongst the top eight teams in the country. By beating UMass-Lowell in last year’s New England Tournament they finished second in the region behind only Bentley College. The team, led by Adatto and the other co-captain Brian Howe (both seniors), is looking forward to this spring when it is planning to participate in the Vermont Select Side Tournament, held right here at UVM in April. Vermont is expected to do quite well in the tournament with the return of key players such as juniors Dave Williams and Nick Williams (not related), who play fly-half and forward, and senior Zach Swander, a fullback. However, the team took a hit with the graduation of forward Reuben Baris after the fall semester. An essential component to the team, Baris will be missed. “He was a big loss,” Adatto said in a phone interview. “It’s going to be tough to fill his shoes.” Rugby is a sport that is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States, yet the rules are still not known by most who watch the game in awe. In essence, rugby can be thought of as a less restrictive version of football. The game begins with a kickoff and the goal of the team with the ball is to either carry the ball across goal lines on opposite ends of the field, or to kick the ball over cross-bars. Sound familiar? The big difference however, is that in rugby there are rarely stops in the action. There are no offensive squads or defensive squads that switch after change of possessions and the positions resemble those of soccer. There are forwards whose job it is to get the ball across the goal line (“the flashy guys who get to score the points” in Adatto’s terms) and backs, who are there primarily to defend. Both forwards and backs are further broken down into more specific positions, for example Adatto is a hooker and Howe is an eightman. The main strategy employed to change possession of the ball is by forcing the carrier to lose control of it; so hitting and tackling are essential to the game. “People are always playing hurt. You learn to play through it,” said Adatto. Despite this factor, or maybe because of it, the interest in rugby at UVM has been increasing in recent years. According to Adatto, this may also be because of the sense of team, the sense of camaraderie, and the sense of toughness prospective players see when they come to their first rugby practices here at UVM and are introduced to the sport. “People are starting to see that our team is more than a social club. We do have a reputation for being a tough club, and it’s a tough game on the field. People like that.” No football team at UVM? Football is for wimps anyway.