Patrick Rowles, Contributing Writer
Basketball is a contact sport. Rugby is a collision sport. Rugby consists of 30 men, wearing only mouthpieces for protection, running around a pitch that is 70 by 100 meters, all with only one set of referee eyes to judge the clean hits from the dirty ones. However, brawn does not dominate this game. Brains do.
In most every sport today, each team has a coach (or three or five coaches) that positions the defense, calls the plays and inspires the players to action. On the rugby pitch, once the whistle blows, the coach sits down and watches. He is allowed to make six one-time substitutions, which means the player who comes off the field is retired for the remainder of the match.
The captain on the field calls plays on occasion, but for the most part, it is the responsibility of the fifteen players on the field to decide what to do on the fly. The defenders must communicate and shift according to the offense, and the man with the ball decides his course of action at the last moment before the defender sends him crashing to the ground. Communication on the pitch is critical for success, because players often have their heads buried in a tackle.
At the collegiate level, one does not often play a team more than once, and most teams have varying styles from year to year. A smart player can change the course of a game by identifying the opposing team’s strategies and even its calls mid-game. Tyler “Could Have Graduated Three Years Ago” Burr, captain of the University of Dallas Groundhogs, has great confidence in the intelligence level of this year’s squad. He said, “I would put our team GPA up against any other sport’s team on campus, except maybe the Math Club.”