Just like lacrosse, rugby is becoming highly popular on college campuses as colleges put together teams and clubs. Augustana College has a rugby club, which competed against Loras College and won on April 16.
Captain of the rugby club Steward Shackleton said the team has more of a social dynamic than competitive aspect.
“It’s very casual, and it’s mostly just to socialize with the guys on the team,” Shackleton said. “The idea is to get together and practice twice a week, get the basics down, meet up on Saturdays and play against some other casual teams.”
According to Shackleton, the club began about sixteen years ago. The club was started by current rugby club head coach Earl Strupp.
The club focuses on developing the members as rugby players during their practices every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m.
“At this level, we certainly focus more on introducing guys to the beginning parts of rugby,” Shackleton said. “There’s a big deal in the U.S. right now where collegiate athletes aren’t progressing their game after college and just keeping it there, but there is a lot of options outside of college rugby. (We want) to inspire guys to continue to play rugby once they enter the real world.”
Some of the teams the club competes against are from other colleges, such as Loras College, who they played on April 16 in Davenport.
Other competition for the club is the two tournaments they compete in: the All-Iowa tournament and the Wayne State tournament in Nebraska.
Shackleton said the Wayne State tournament is a great place for beginners to learn how to play rugby.
“The Nebraska tournament is kind of an introductory tournament where we play in one of the lower leagues,” Shackleton said. “It’s to get the guys affiliated with rugby and how the game is played.”
The rugby club was defeated in the semi-finals of the Wayne State tournament by Marquette University.
The All-Iowa tournament will be on May 7, where the club will travel and play in a tournament with high-profile rugby teams.
“Every big name team and decent team will be there and compete,” Shackleton said. “It’s a lot of fun.”