Club Close-Up: Men’s rugby club


Men’s Rugby tournament in Whitewater on March 18. Photo retrieved from Everett Strean.

Gianna Fussell, Sports Reporter

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse men’s rugby club was officially approved in the fall of 2021 after Everett Strean started forming it in the spring of his freshman year. “I wanted to start the club since I enjoyed playing in high school and our school didn’t have a club team. The women’s rugby club helped me a lot in starting up the club,” said Strean.

Strean is currently a junior with a biochemistry major with a chemistry minor and he is the president of the men’s rugby club. The vice president, Isaac Olson, is a history major, and a sophomore. Olson said, “I have been involved with the rugby club for two years, since the fall of my freshman year when I was put in contact with the guy that had gotten the club back on its feet, Everett Strean. I am currently the club’s vice president and I act as co-captain alongside Everett and coach the team with him.”

Photo retrieved from Isaac Olson.

The men’s rugby club, which currently has about 18 members, has two seasons. “In the fall, it’s the ’15s’ season and in the spring it’s the ‘7s’ season,” Strean said. The fall season starts at the beginning of the fall semester and ends in November. There are 15 players (15s) from each team on the field in the fall season and the playoffs for the fall season are based on the conference record the team holds in the fall.

The winner of the conference championship will be sent to nationals.  The games last 80 minutes with two 40 minute halves, and a “B” side match may be played after if the teams are larger. These games are usually played in one day since the games are usually played against other UW teams or the Milwaukee School of Engineering. 

The spring season is when tournament play happens. “Teams host tournaments to compete in,” Strean said. There are seven (7s) players from each team on the field in the spring season. The men’s rugby team plays in the Great Midwest Conference where they play other UW system schools.

Photo retrieved from Isaac Olson.

7’s is played in tournaments that usually span over a full day on Saturday and almost every team from the conference comes to play at a given school and plays three to four games a day,” Olson said. The games are 14 minutes long in 7’s versus the 80 minute games played in 15’s.  In the spring season playoffs, the team that wins the qualifier tournament has the opportunity to be invited, along with other teams who win their divisions, to travel to compete in the National Championship in Washington D.C. The 2023 Qualifier Tournament is in Cottage Grove on Saturday, April 15.

Olson said, “To win a game a team simply has to outscore the opposing team, scoring consists of ‘trys’ and ‘conversions’ as well as penalty kicks,” Olson said. Teams score points by touching down the ball in the try zone and the team with the most points after regulation is the winning team. “A try is worth 5 points with a conversion kick following it for another 2 points to give the maximum points scored at one time to be 7 points,” Olson said.

In a try, the ball must physically touch the ground in order to score. “The reason this is important is wherever the player places the ball onto the ground, the ball is taken roughly 20 yards straight out and that is where the conversion is kicked from. So if you place the ball down in the corner, the kick is much more difficult, and thus you risk missing out on points,” said Olson. If a team is awarded a penalty kick, they receive three points.

Photo retrieved from Isaac Olson.

A rugby field is similar to a football field, however, a rugby field is wider, and instead of goal posts at the back of a zone, like in football, the posts are placed in the middle of the field at the front of the try zone. 

The men’s rugby club practices on Monday nights from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at North Campus Field. “We’ve placed third in the two tournaments we’ve been involved in,” said Strean when asked about how this season is going. There are three more tournaments the men’s rugby club will compete in. These include ones at Eau Claire, Cottage Grove, and Stout, all in April. 

“My favorite part of club rugby is playing with the guys on weekends and knowing that these are all guys I would go to war with and that would go to war with me,” Olson said, “The community in rugby as a whole across every team is not found anywhere else in sport, the camaraderie and friendships made with complete strangers are unmatched in any other sport or competition I have been a part of, and that sentiment is shared by everybody I have come in contact with.”

In addition, Olson said a saying in the community that is popular is “Saturday is rugby day.” 

If anyone is interested in joining the men’s rugby club team, they can email [email protected], [email protected] or follow @uwl_mensrugby on Instagram. No prior experience in playing rugby is required to join the team. Click here for the MyOrgs site, or check out the men’s rugby club team Involvement Fest booths. Strean also said, “ talking to members that wear rugby apparel around” is another way to get involved.