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Rams men’s rugby balances teamwork, team bonding

Thomas+Leachman+%2816%29+of+Coloradao+State+University+Mens+Rugby+tackles+a+Colorado+Boulder+player+during+a+match+between+CSU+and+CU+Sept.+17
Collegian | Aria Paul
Thomas Leachman (16) of Coloradao State University men’s rugby tackles a University of Colorado Boulder player during a match between CSU and CU Sept. 17. CSU won 40-18.

The Rocky Mountain Showdown isn’t just a competition for Colorado State’s Division I sports. Of the 30 club sport teams at CSU, several of them played against Colorado that same weekend.

One of these matchups included the rugby teams, with both the men’s and women’s sides competing against the Buffaloes. Rugby is surprisingly popular in the state of Colorado, with many high schools having a team for their school. 

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These high school competitions continue at the collegiate level, with many schools having both club and NCAA teams. Colorado State has both men’s and women’s teams that receive quite a lot of fan attention, especially during the Rocky Mountain Showdown weekend.

Like many sports, rugby is extremely competitive. The team has a culture that looks intense, but just like the sport itself, there is a heavy team connection built in. Jaden Dvorak, a junior player on the men’s team, said rugby relies on the team.

“Rugby, I would say, is focused on the team very heavily,” Dvorak said. “From my experiences on the team, rugby is a very teamwork-focused sport. Without working with your teammates, there is no chance in succeeding.”

Other members of the team agree. Success depends on teamwork, and there’s no better way to foster teamwork than with team bonding and lots of practice. 

“In order for the team to work together, we practice three days a week and drill until we trust each other’s abilities on the field,” Dvorak said. “Our games typically are very physical and mentally taxing, so our team bonding really comes from having each other’s backs no matter what.” 

Of course, it wouldn’t be rugby without a little fun outside of practice. On the field it’s business, as the team wants to take advantage of the allotted field time that CSU gives to club teams. Off the field, things are more relaxed. The team has a formal at the end of the season and a few team get-togethers throughout the season.

“We very often will find time to go over to a player’s house to hang out and watch some professional rugby,” said Hunter Baird, a sophomore lock on the men’s team. “I’d say at least once a week there’s a player that will send out a text for us to all get together and relax and hang out away from the practice field.”

By bringing both aspects of teamwork and hard work together, the CSU rugby team competes quite successfully at the club level. During the Rocky Mountain Showdown weekend, CSU Rugby competed against the Buffs.

“Boulder just really lost all their confidence towards the end,” rugby player Jared Wade said. “They got really tired. They weren’t as well conditioned as we are.”

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And it’s that conditioning that makes CSU great. Despite only practicing three days a week, the Rams are able to use the altitude to their advantage against other opponents.

Overall, the team fosters a serious environment during practice while still balancing fun and team bonding. 

“We have a very relaxed and fun team atmosphere where we will all hang out and crack jokes and have fun passing the ball and playing the sport we all love, but as soon as that whistle blows, I feel like we all have a switch that turns on and we are locked in (and) focused on getting better,” Baird said. “We are all accountable for each other’s development and what will make our team better as a whole. During practice, we will have many drills where we focus on tuning up our skills, and we also have a competition between our A and B side players.”

It’s clear that this CSU men’s rugby team is able to balance teamwork and team bonding to create a rock solid team. Their next game will be against Air Force Saturday, Sept. 30, with the first match starting at 10:30 a.m. The Rams look to continue their positive progress and gain two victories over the Falcons.

Reach Emma Askren at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @emma_askren.

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About the Contributor
Emma Askren
Emma Askren, Sports Editor
Emma Askren, alongside Damon Cook, is the fall 2023 sports editor for The Collegian. She began working at The Collegian during her first year in the fall of 2022, when she covered the swim and dive team as well as anything sports-related. She is currently a sophomore at Colorado State University, where she is majoring in journalism and media communication and double minoring in Spanish and sports management. During her first year, she joined the rowing team, began working as a reporter for The Collegian and working at the Student Recreation Center. Askren applied to CSU as a journalism major, knowing she wanted to combine her passion for sports and writing to create a fulfilling career. Upon realizing that Rocky Mountain Student Media was hiring for first-years, she jumped at the opportunity to become a writer for The Collegian. While working for the sports desk, Askren has had the opportunity to write about hockey, logging, whitewater rafting and the importance of women in sports. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she seeks to break the status quo and become a successful sports journalist following graduation. Following a year as a sports reporter, Askren became a co-editor for the sports desk alongside Cook. Together the duo seeks to create a new and improved sports desk that caters to all readers of The Collegian and beyond.

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