Keep calm and tackle


Photo courtesy of Maura Gilbert

By Dominika Chruszcz, Copy Editor

A powerful tackle can easily get your face to plunge straight into the cold hard ground. Sweat and tears simply won’t stop these strong-willed players. Strength, speed and strategy are the name of the game; rugby.   

Rugby, a contact team sport that originated in England, is characterized by tackling, kicking, lateral passing and no time-outs or substitute players.

Slightly different from American football, only 15 players per team are on the field. Scoring is distinguished in a variety of ways whether by grounding the ball in the opponent’s “goal” area or through a penalty kick.

Rugby at Lane was kickstarted three years ago by siblings Maeve, Div. 766, Maura, Div. 856, and Roisin Gilbert, Div. 052. Prominently being a co-ed club, the group got to walk during the Homecoming rally this year along with other sport teams.

The all-girls sports team achieved success during May when they won the state championship. A complete Lane team wasn’t possible last year, so players from Hersey, Conant, Palatine and Lake View were merged into one Girls Rugby Team. Five months of conditioning, training and grueling efforts paid off.

Even with the victory, rugby isn’t a popular sport amongst Illinois schools.

According to IHSA Executive Director Matt Troha, the Board of Directors considers adding a new sport when approximately 10 percent of membership (85 schools) offer a sport at the varsity level.

“Currently, we only have one school signed up for boys rugby and two for girls, which doesn’t meet the aforementioned 10 percent threshold,” Troha said.

Even without a full qualification, rugby still remains.

“We have a club where we watch rugby and play touch sometimes,” President Maura Gilbert said. “In the beginning of the school year, Mr. Hofman said that we could become a sport at Lane and get support from the athletic department.”

Athletic Director Mr. Hofman said that he would love to have more involvement of students in the club, especially with a female rugby team where girls have a chance to participate.

In regards to the future of the sport, Maura Gilbert said that she’d like to see more women’s rugby teams that the team could play against.

“I would like to see a whole varsity and JV team and for us to be able to play other teams in the city,” Maura Gilbert said.

Briana Galvin, Div. 882, said that there’s a position for anyone in rugby. She said that not only should rugby be offered to everyone based on the sport itself, it should be based off of the family environment.

“It’s very cliche but it’s true. I spend so much time with the team,” Galvin said.    

The team’s coach, Mr. Gilbert, agreed that anyone could play.

“Any one of any gender, color, size, shape or physical ability is not only encouraged to play, but are expected to do their part and are challenged every time they step on the pitch to honor themselves and their team with their best effort,” he said.

Mr. Bradish, a history teacher and the club sponsor, said that having the Gilbert sisters in the building really helps with promotion.

“Without the Gilbert family there would be no rugby,” Bradish said. “The dad’s the coach and you have three girls on the team. I think that they are gaining momentum.”

Rugby teaches its players a substantial amount of sportsmanship and team-building.

Frankie Geiser, Div. 067, has been playing rugby since he was six years old and said that rugby teaches its players “camaraderie.”

Not only has rugby taught players to be kind towards their teammates, rugby has taught its members about giving back to the environment. After every match the team has a social with the other group and even clean up the park at which they played in.

“Rugby is a lot of ‘you leave it better than you found it,’” Galvin said.

Maura Gilbert said that rugby has taught her a lot about friendship and the coach added that players aren’t only friends with their teammates but with everyone they play against.

It sounds corny, but it is like being a part of a world-wide family,” Coach Gilbert said. “I have traveled to countries where I do not speak the language, but have found rugby players there who were my instant friends.”