Friday, after car pooling in cramped vehicles all the way to Logan, Salt Lake Community College’s Rugby Club faced the Utah State University team and claimed victory. The unofficial official score was a whopping 59 to 15 according to some of the players. Club adviser, Brad Paulson, also SLCC’s facilities sign office specialist, also reported a triumphant win.
Though they did well Friday, beating a University sponsored team; SLCC’s rugby club currently has zero funds. And, while some knew there was a club but not a team, though, for all extents and purposes, there is a fully manned, functional rugby team. There has to be at least 15-20 guys including substitutes. Already, SLCC has a good core of students who meet regularly. Paulson’s right hand man, Will Unga, adviser of the Pacific Unity Association schedules games for SLCC to play regularly, as well.
But people really don’t know they exist.
For the rugby players, driving to their game at Utah State University required preparation. The team had to meet and drive their own cars, piling several guys into a single vehicle, though there were several school vans not being used that weekend. The team has no uniforms, either. Likewise, though a rugby field is the same as a soccer field, the club is not allowed onto the soccer field at the Redwood campus. Instead the team has adopted the Taylorsville Park as there place of practice every week day from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
As Paulson says, when looking at the equipment necessary for baseball, basketball and football teams, there’s comparatively less on demand for rugby. Besides the cleats and ball, there’s not much else required.
While the club doesn’t receive too much support or limelight, there is, “A lot of potential there,” says Paulson. All the team members have played before, either in high school, another college or university or grown up playing it.
Bill Hadfield, the adviser of the U of U rugby team, currently ranked number two in the nation, called Paulson and discussed the possibility of SLCC’s team being a “Farm club” some time back. This means SLCC’s rugby team will be the training grounds for players who can possibly be recruited or move on to playing with the U. With tuition being much lower at SLCC, too, foreign exchange students who’ve had experience playing in their home countries can also seek refuge with the community college’s club.
“The U of U likes to watch us play,” player Nuku S. Anitoni said, “they’re recruiting or looking to give out scholarships.”
Teammate Colton Phippen previously played on the U’s team and found his way to SLCC’s after “asking a big Polynesian guy” who “looked like he played.” Phippen had only heard “rumors” of the team and wanted to seek it out.
While the club started only just last year, anytime there were calls for joining, many expressed interest. However, many wanted to start playing before getting conditioned first. Others wanted glory and recognition without the time and effort put into it.
Aside from the chance of playing with “the bigger schools” like the U, BYU and UVU, however, joining the rugby club will also provide the foundation for further progress.
“Within two years, they could be playing for the nationals,” Paulson said of some of the players. The professionals have to start somewhere, Paulson pointed out, and there’s talent to be had here. But dedication is key. While practice attendance is ambiguous with schedule constantly, it’s still important team mates meet and train together.
Phippen and Anitoni also admit having developed close friendships with their teammates. It’s given them a sense of camaraderie, brotherhood and a way to stay in shape.
Plus, when he feel “overloaded with school work” Phippen looks forwarded to getting out and practicing with his brothers and just “letting go.”
Paulson realizes the amount of apathy most students have. They come to class and that’s it. But, joining the club will give students to make great friends and represent the school as well as open the doors to limitless means of moving up and taking rugby above and beyond the community college level.
They have zero funds now but there’s potential. All students are welcome to join, stop by practice or contact Paulson at firstname.lastname@example.org to join officially. With the desire to better yourself and commitment to the team, there’s a lot of opportunity, enrichment and enjoyment there, if student so chose just to look.