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Kicks in the chest: Drake Rugby travels to Ames

Column by Luke Nankivell

Luke Nankivell Columnist-w800-h800This past weekend Drake Rugby had its first game.

We traveled up to Ames to play against Iowa State. Since we only had four players travel up north, we combined teams with guys from the University of Northern Iowa.

Although our rag-tag team lost, it was great to get some real-game experience under our belts.

I’m happy to say that no one suffered severe injuries. One player got a cut above his eye, but that’s something that almost always happens in a rugby game.

Despite the kicks in the chest, bruised hips, cramped legs and grass-stained knees and elbows, I had a blast playing.

Playing on a nice, even rugby pitch (complete with goalposts) was quite the change from the somewhat uneven, muddy intramural fields we practice on here at Drake.

The one thing that was a bit tough to get used to was the position I was playing, called a lock.

Like soccer, the ball is thrown inbounds after going out of bounds. Unlike soccer, teammates can lift one player up in order to get an advantage of catching the ball. I was the guy being hoisted up.

Since I had never played that position, and there was a guy lifting me up behind me, I quickly learned I had to jump and keep my legs straight. Let’s just say that the guy behind got kicked once or twice where no guy wants to get kicked.

But, that experience made me a better player. I’m not the kind of guy that when you look at me, you think, “Yup, that guy plays rugby.”

Even though I’m not the most fit guy, or the most built guy, I give all I’ve got when it comes to sports.

We only have a couple more weeks left of practice this semester, and, looking back, we’ve come a long way since our first meeting just a couple short months ago, whether it’s our talent, fitness or understanding of the game.

One of my teammates, freshman Ben Prichard, said something that grabbed my attention.

“If 20 years from now, Drake has a strong rugby program, we can say, ‘Hey, I was one of the guys who started that.’”

He was right. Everything has small beginnings. Basketball gets its name because the founding players literally played with baskets as the hoops. Professional football teams originally had players who played both sides of the ball.

I’m proud to say that we’ve started something at Drake. It’s the beginning of a legacy we’re leaving behind. Hopefully, our legacy can live on long after we’ve graduated.

Nankivell is a junior magazine journalism and politics double major and can be reached at luke.nankivell@drake.edu

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