Underdog Sac State rugby team has fun while doing what it loves

Kayla Oliverio

Rugby may have started in England, but the rugby club at Sacramento State is making the sport its own.

Rugby is an intense and complex contact sport, combining catching, stealing and scrums; huge team on team shoving matches.

However, with rookies making up nearly half the roster, the club doesn’t let experience hold back its confidence on the field. In fact, the Hornets play in Division 1A, the top division in the nation.

Senior kinesiology major Erik Hernandez, who plays outside center, said he doesn’t mind the challenge that D1A presents to his team.

“This division was definitely difficult this year, we haven’t done good so far, but our team is only improving and I feel the last few games are ours for the taking,” Hernandez said.

Senior criminal justice major Stephen Zimmerman, who plays flanker and lock, said he felt the challenges the come with working with new players.

“Trying to get experienced players is tough. It’s tough playing with a half-rookie team in an experienced, difficult league,” Zimmerman said.

Despite the challenges, there has been no lack of good times within the club. Junior mechanical engineering major Nico Chavez, who plays lock, said he enjoys being around his teammates on and off the field.

“We haven’t won many games this year, but its still fun at every game. The (most fun) part is just being on a team and competing for Sac State,” Chavez said. “Having a bond with my buddies is just awesome.”

Zimmerman agrees that he and his teammates have a good time and enjoy each other’s company.

“The best part about the team is the camaraderie; everyone on the team is cool and we all get along,” Zimmerman said. “Traveling with the team is a huge camaraderie builder and we all have fun.”

Hernandez said they also had a great time during away games.

“We just took a trip to San Diego for a game and it definitely brought the guys closer together,” Hernandez said.

Being close helps, because rugby is very physical, and can get rough on the field.

“The game takes a toll on everyone’s body, but that’s one reason I love it,” Chavez said. “We only practice two days a week, but its up to us to get into the weight room and condition on our own. You have to balance your work, school and getting in shape.”

The team is always looking for new players, no matter the skill level.

“Rugby players come in all different shapes and sizes and everyone is a key component to the roster,” Hernandez said. “For anyone who’s afraid to try out rugby, college is the time to experience new things and rugby is (a) culture that’s accepting to everybody.”