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Rugby gains new American popularity

Column by Luke Nankivell

Luke Nankivell Columnist-w800-h800I was first introduced to the game of rugby when I was seven years old.

It was my dad’s favorite sport. He played it for close to 30 years in his homeland of New Zealand.

During his career, he broke a few bones, shed some blood, but never wanted to give it up. In fact, the only reason he gave up the game was because my mom convinced him he was getting too old.

It took me a few games to fully understand the rules, but I soon fell in love with the game.

The game itself is somewhat similar to American football. Unlike in football, you can only pass the ball backwards. Players can also punt the ball forward to avoid defenders.

The scoring is a little different, too.

Instead of a touchdown being worth six points followed by an extra point like in football, players in rugby score a try worth five points.

Also, when scoring a try, the ball must hit the ground in the “end zone.”

After scoring a try, the ball is kicked for two more points through uprights, like in football.

The difference here is that wherever the ball is taken out on a straight line from wherever it was touched down in the try zone. So, it’s important to score as close to the goalpost as possible.

One thing that I like seeing is that rugby is becoming more popular in the U.S.

The United States’ national team, the Eagles, ranks 18th internationally, and the team is vying for one of the qualifying spots in the 2015 World Cup.

I was excited to see a sign that read “DRAKE RUGBY” at the activities fair my freshman year. I debated signing up for the team, but the transition into college made me decide to pass.

During my sophomore year, I decided I would be too busy to join the team.

A friend of mine from back home joined the rugby team at his college, Bowling Green University. He helped lead the team to a visit to Nationals , and I was inspired to play.

I played a little bit during my high school years, but never on an organized team or club. Unfortunately, it was never popular enough back home.

When we had the activities fair a couple weeks ago, I was working the booth for The Times-Delphic.

I looked across the room and saw that sign reading “DRAKE RUGBY” calling my name.

I decided it was finally time to see what Drake’s team is like.

I’m excited to play the game on the collegiate level. I played a little bit during my high school, but I am absolutely sure this will be a lot more intense and a lot more fun.

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