Their classification does not fall under the “sponsored” sport category which means they are not an NCAA endorsed sport here at USI. They are simply a collection of individuals with a similar interest: a club.
Combine football and soccer for two 40 minute halves and you have rugby. The ball can be passed or kicked forward in order to score points.
Captain of the team, sophomore Tyler Pipes, explained that the team currently consists of 30 guys who meet two to three times a week to practice.
“Being a club sport means we receive limited funding from the university,” Pipes said.
Pipes said that fundraisers are carried out and dues paid in order for the team to raise money for uniforms and trips to competitions of surrounding teams.
“We compete against schools such as Purdue, Ball state, Southern Illinois and Indiana State,” he said.
Freshmen kinesiology major Justin Mizen said that when they travel to competitions they often car pool with each other.
“I like that, it’s a lot more fun than taking a bus,” he said.
Part of the reason rugby isn’t a school sponsored sport is because it isn’t an NCAA championship sport on the Division 2 level.
When the school considers adding a sponsored sport, whether or not there is a national championship and a league championship are considerations that are looked at, Director of Athletics John Mark Hall said.
“You always have to be open to the possibility of a club forming and then eventually become a sport,” Hall said.
Mizen chose to join the rugby team rather than a school sponsored sport because of the bonds formed.
“The bonding you have among the players is completely different,” Mizen said. “I’ve played every other sport except football and the bonding isn’t the same.”
The lack of a coach or an NCAA structure doesn’t keep the team from being organized and dedicated.
“When other people are there then I want to stick with it,” Mizen said.
Rugby is not the only club sport at USI either. There is also a bowling club and wrestling club and a women’s rugby as well.
“Clubs are very positive for the university,” Hall said.
Pipes would like to see the rugby team get recognition for what they’ve done. Coming off a 7-4 season, the team has had some success.
“We put a lot of time and effort in to making a name for USI in this sport and have succeeded very well,” Pipes said.
“I think they’re great, they give opportunity to participate in the sport they (students) love,” Hall said. “I think it’s a positive situation because I think anytime someone has a love for a sport that they can’t compete in, the opportunity to compete at (the) club level is definitely a positive."