Lehigh Rugby takes on IUP

rugby-picI’ve played rugby at Lehigh University for 2 years. This Saturday the Lehigh Men’s club rugby team had one of its toughest matchups of the year. It was an away game with a start time at noon. Since IUP is a four-hour drive from Lehigh we had to wake up early for the game.

It was 6:30 in the morning and I was jolted awake when I heard my alarm clock go off. That’s earlier than when I normally have to wake up for class during the week. I rolled out of bed and collected all of the gear that I would need for the game. My backpack was filled with rugby shorts, cleats, compression shorts, mouth guards and water. I made my way out to my car and picked up one of my teammates on the way to Taylor gym, the teams meeting spot before every away game. On the way we stopped off at Johnny’s Bagels at Campus Square to get some breakfast that we would eat on the ride over.

Normally the team carpools to away games, but since IUP is over a four-hour drive The University financed a bus to bring the whole team. When I heard about the bus, it was music to my ears. Being one of the few players on the team who has a car, I get stuck with the responsibility of driving teammates to most away games. However, with this bus I was able to finally sit back and relax during the ride. The team departed from campus at roughly 7:10. The ride itself wasn’t all too exciting. It mainly consisted of players sleeping and listening to music on their phones or ipods with the occasional conversation with someone sitting near you.

We arrived at the IUP field close to 11, giving us a full hour to warm up and prepare for the game to come. We have the same warm up routine before every game that we run through as a team. We take a lap around the field, then do a dynamic stretch were we stretch and move at the same time followed by static stretching where we sit down and slowly stretch whatever we missed in the dynamic set. Then we get started with some drills to warm up our hands with catching the ball.

However, for me personally I had a different warm up for this game. Coming into this game I knew I had a strained hamstring from a game earlier in the year. It’s a lingering injury that I’ve had off and on throughout my rugby career so it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. The key is to just slowly stretch it out during your warm up and to not overexert it before the game.

After our warm up the team was ready to face off against IUP in what would be a terrific game. Rugby can be complicated to someone who doesn’t know the rules so here is a link with some of the basic rules. Basics of Rugby

We started our game against IUP kicking the ball off to them to start the first half. The game started out slow. With a total of 30 players on a field, it can be difficult to advance the ball. Players were running directly into the defense trying to make something happen. Finally about halfway through the first half, thunder struck. One of the Backs for IUP broke through our line for a breakaway score to go up 7-0. Lehigh quickly responded with what is equivalent to a field goal in football to bring the game to a 7-3 score still in favor of IUP. The game resumed as players continued to run hard and hit the other team with everything they had. Finally at half time the teams had a break and got a chance to recover and drink some water. By this point my hamstring was pretty worn out so I was subbed out for teammate.

Halftime ended and the game recommenced. The players continued to wear each other down until someone scored. Unfortunately for us, it was IUP who wore out our defense and managed to score. The second half was long and arduous for a young Lehigh rugby team. The game ended with IUP winning 27-13. For Lehigh Men’s club rugby this was a great result. Two years ago we lost to IUP 73-0 in a blowout. To improve that much in just to years and have a close game with a power house like IUP shows that Lehigh men’s rugby is improving quickly and a threat to any team that we may face.

Despite losing the game, we left pleased with our overall performance. Now all we had left to do was to sit back and recover from the laborious game and catch up on much needed sleep while we rode back to Lehigh.