Rugby set to return

Quin Norris, Sports Editor

Not unlike many other sports teams around the United States, the University of North Alabama’s rugby team has learned to adapt with the growing restraints of the coronavirus. 

For the team, this meant being ready to move away from their traditional fall schedule and adapt to their new spring season. 

“At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year the National Collegiate Rugby Association released a statement that they would leave the upcoming fall schedule up to the individual conferences,” said James Trentham, UNA Rugby  captain. “Unfortunately for us The South Central Conference, which we are a member of, decided to postpone the fall schedule with plans to play this spring.” 

The year will look very different for UNA Rugby this season as they will play a limited conference only schedule like that of college football from the fall. 

 “It is disappointing to not play a full schedule this season, but I am beyond excited to get to play,” Rugby member Matthew Klima said. “The joy of going out and playing with these guys is the greatest feeling because I am competing for more than just myself. While many of my teammates are not looking forward to the cold weather that this season will bring I just kind of shrug it off because I was raised in Ohio and was born for this.” 

However, putting on this season will not be easy for UNA Rugby as they are only a club sport and do not have the funding that a major scholarship program has. This has made for a strong level of personal responsibility put on the shoulders of this team. 

“Being a club sport at UNA we do not get the additional value that D1 athletics get from frequent testing and special protocols,” Trentham said. “We, however, go through the university using Guidesafe health checks to make sure everyone is healthy. If anyone begins to feel sick, they reach out to me to ensure that I get them on our COVID list. Anyone then around that player goes to a testing facility on campus. In addition to those protocols we have split our guys up into different groups in an attempt to lower the potential spread if one off us was to contract the virus.” 

The team has found more creative ways to practice as well by attempting to social distance during workouts and a little during practice, but with a high contact sport like Rugby the team certainly has their hands full trying to reach a balance between the two. 

“I have more faith in these guys avoiding this virus than almost anything else,” Trentham said. ”They all work hard and take the upcoming challenge very serious.”

Starting back along with the return of the spring semester, the team has begun to practice and workout for their upcoming schedule. 

 “It is more of a headache than I first thought it would be,” Klima said when asked about the difficulty of practicing while social distancing. “But, we all take this very seriously because not only do we want to have our season this spring; we also want to keep our student body and faculty safe from this virus.” 

Pending the green-light from the University, conference and recreational league, the team plans to start up their schedule in mid to late February. Consisting of either three or four home games at Veteran’s Park here in Florence, Alabama. 

However, nothing is guaranteed at this point of the schedule making process.  Students can find updates on the team’s Instagram account @una_rc.