Interview: Rugby Captain

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I talked with Sam Borja, captain of the Rugby team, and we discussed the team, its future, and rugby as a whole. Look for the full story in the next issue of The Eyrie.

Max Chao: What is your exact position on the team?

Sam Borja: I’m team captain but I take over a lot of duties like talking with the school and doing other managerial roles so I don’t just leave the team on the field, I am also on charge of the team.

MC: So why would you choose a sport like rugby, which isn’t very popular in this area?

SB: When I was in 8th grade, my sister’s friends asked me to play rugby with them when I got to the high school. I thought sure, why not, it seems fun. At first I didn’t really get it, but I started to get the hang of it during my first game.

MC: How is the team connected to the school? Is it a private club or a school-sponsored club?

SB: We don’t really don’t really have much relationship with the school right now because we are independent. We are trying to become an independent provider, which means that we provide everything for the team but we are consisted of the school’s students. We were trying to get that sort of relationship with the school, but it didn’t really work out so now we are pretty much an independent organization and we probably will just be renting the field.

MC: Are the other rubgy teams independent from their schools?

SB: Most rugby clubs are independent. There aren’t any around here that are official school clubs, but there are some schools that have independent provider status. All of these clubs are affiliated with the Minnesota State Youth Rugby League, and they organize where the games go and where the tournament is.

MC: Do you think rugby getting more popular in the US?

SB: I know rugby is getting more popular and more teams are starting to show up, but I don’t know how fast that’s going or what future predictions are. I think that the more people play it and the longer it has a presence around here the more people are going to get interested in it. Rugby right now is kind of how lacrosse was like 10 years ago, where not a lot of people played it but people still knew about it, but now it’s huge. I think rugby’s going a similar way.

MC: Have you seen any growth in enrollment on the team during your time as a player?

SB: The first year I played, the team had been around for a year or two before that. I know they always struggled with guys and we still struggle with that today because you’re right, not many people know about it and not many people know things about the sport. We pretty much have the same problems that we had back then. We always need a solid place to practice. We are in talks with the school to rent out a field, but we’ve mostly just been practicing at city parks and stuff. That has been a problem for the entire team in its history. We also have issues with recruiting people. I know last year was our best year for enrollment, and I would like to get back to that  this year. It’s pretty much a gamble each year on what our enrollment will be like.

MC: Do you think that enrollment has to do with the idea that rugby is dangerous?

SB: A lot of people when I try to talk to them about rugby and what they know about it, they just say oh, its just tackling without pads, right? That’s crazy. But I think that sort of hurts the sport because its actually much safer than football. Football players have pads and they don’t really pay much attention to form and safe tackling so without pads, like in rugby, you think about “oh if I tackle this guy I’m going to get kneed in the face, I don’t have a face mask to protect me.” Rugby has a lot safer tackling and I think the fact that people don’t know that affects whether people want to play it or not or really want to.

MC: Is there anything else you think people should know about the team?

SB: Everyone needs to know that we are always looking for people to sign up.