After the opening of the new track and tennis courts to the ORU campus, a rugby field has also been added to the grounds. Two blue goals, resembling football goal posts, now stand near the praying hands. They belong to the newest athletic member of the university, the rugby teams.
“[Rugby] toughens you up and conditions you to be able to deal with problems both on and off the field,” said team member Bryan Njotorahardjo, a veteran of the game in his home country of Indonesia. “It gives me a rush no other sport gives me. It’s physical, exciting and competitive.”
Pastor at Guts Church in Tulsa, Bill Scheer is also the head of the rugby program. He is the coach of both the men’s and women’s teams.
Many are unfamiliar with the fast-paced sport. Rugby is a physical and entertaining contact sport played with either 15 or seven players on a team.
Games are called either “15’s,” which are played during the fall season, or “7’s,” which are played during the spring season. This number accounts for the number of players on the field at a time. Sevens are considered more difficult because the athletes need to be faster and stronger to make up for the loss of having 15 players on the field.
The objective of the game is to get the ball down the field by running through tackles or tossing it laterally to your teammate in order to get into the try zone. The try zone is a lot like a football end zone, where a player touches the ball to the ground to score five points.
“Rugby is 80 minutes of intense physical contact,” said Jay Wells, a member of the men’s team. “The team is great, and we have a lot of great athletes.”
ORU rugby is a young program, and lots of players are stepping on the field for the first time. Nonetheless, Wells is optimistic and says that all they need to do is learn the game and play more. The team wakes up every Tuesday and Thursday for 6 a.m. practice.
“Nobody wants to wake up that early. That’s why we had a lot of guys fall off,” said Wells. “But our core team is committed to playing, practicing, respecting and honoring, so I’m really excited.”
On the women’s side, Sydney Stoever believes that this new opportunity gives the girls a lot to look forward to.
“None of us really had experience playing rugby before this program began in August,” said Stoever. “The team has been training hard to be in the best possible shape and to learn the technical side.”
However, like the men’s team, being a new team has its learning curves and requires time to adapt to the game so they can compete against bigger schools.
“Even if we go out there and lose the majority of our games this first season, we are still doing something that has never been done before and I’m proud to be a part of that,” said Stoever.
Rugby is known to be a sport that shows the weaknesses of every athlete, whether in strength, speed, confidence or endurance. The sport creates a strong bond among the teams because what one lacks in, the others make up for believes Njotorahardjo.
On Saturday Oct. 21, the men’s team fought hard yet fell short against Pittsburg State University from Kansas on the new field.
“Out on the field, we sweat and bleed together and off the field, we’re brothers. I love that about rugby,” said Njotorahardjo.