Why do you play rugby? I love the competition, physicality and fellowship.
How long have you been playing? I’ve been playing rugby for two years. My past competitive sports include gymnastics and karate.
Do you compete? Yes, I play competitively with my team Gainesville Rugby Club – the Hogs. Last year we made it into the top 10 in the nation. We’re still in the middle of our season this year and we are doing well.
Most challenging aspect of rugby: Rugby is challenging because of the mix of the physicality of play with all the tackles combined with the endurance needed to be able to complete those tackles repetitively for two 45-minute periods. It’s like you’re sprinting and doing burpees for 45 continuous minutes during each half.
Most fun aspect of the game: During the rugby match, my favorite part of play is called the scrum down. My position is #2 (the Hooker). And the hooker lines up similarly to a football center. During the scrum down, I am right in the middle of these two colliding forces. While this collision happens, my objective is to hook the ball back with my foot to my team or to steal the ball from the opposing team’s hooker. I am reasonably good at stealing the ball.
Most rewarding aspect of rugby: The most rewarding aspect of playing rugby is playing rugby!
Who/what inspires you when you’re feeling weak? I have to have a goal, championship or specific task to strive for. When I am feeling weak, I visualize that goal in the distance and I keep running towards it like my life depends on it.
Advice for others who’d like to get started: USA Rugby our national organization has a great website to start with USArugby.org. With rugby being reintroduced into the Olympics, now is a great time for young players to get started. There are a growing number of youth program in the U.S. I found out about my team in Gainesville, FL online and I showed up to practice one day. I made a personal commitment to myself to keep coming back to practice until they asked me to leave… I’m still playing.
Your must-have equipment for this activity: You need a mouth guard and a pair of rugby boots (shoes.) Soccer shoes will work if you’re just getting started. Shorts are optional.
Favorite training song: The “Days of the Week” song is a rugby classic.
Favorite healthy food: Grilled chicken breast is my go-to.
Favorite not-so-healthy food: I absolutely love pepperoni and sausage pizza.
Funniest /weirdest/most awkward experience while playing rugby: When I first started playing, I had been to maybe three practices. That Saturday, we had an away match against Tallahassee and my coach Kerri O’Malley (picture a short fiery Irish redhead) decided to put me in the game. During a line-out, I was standing where I thought I should be. The Sir (referee) looks at me and says, “Son, what’re you doing there?” I said, “Sir, this is where they told me to stand.” The Sir, “No son. Go stand over there.”
Some of our post-game traditions are kind of weird. For instance, when you score your first try (a goal), later that night at the social (the after-match rugby celebration) you have to do a lap around the team pub naked.