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NMSU men’s rugby underway

After concluding a promising season in the 2022 spring semester, NMSU men’s rugby hopes to have a successful upcoming season with new faces.

The season got off to a good start Saturday, Sept. 10, at the NMSU intramural fields with a 42-20 victory over the University of Texas at El Paso. Since NMSU rugby is not an officially sponsored club sport, the organization is actively recruiting students in an effort to grow the program. The team struggled last season due to a lack of players.

Aggie Rugby player, Gerard Graciano, left, makes a tackle against UTEP at the NMSU intramural fields earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of NMSU rugby)

The game of rugby is a non-stop sport, with little to no breaks and full commitment. This intimidates potential players, however, head coach Nicolas Videla assures newcomers that anybody can play rugby.

“A lot of the guys that are currently leading on the field, they’re guys who never touched a rugby ball before last year,” Videla said. “Anybody who wants to learn a sport or be part of something, rugby is definitely the sport because everyone has the opportunity to make a play and work together on the field.”

Many of the players on the rugby team come from different backgrounds, including team captain Connor McPheeters, who is a former soccer player.

“There are no prerequisites for the team,” McPheeters said.

Rugby is a sport where everyone has a role that matters, which explains why the team is so close. 

Alex Kazhe-Kirgan, who plays at the prop position, and most of the other members of the team agree that their group can be compared to a fraternity.

“I instantly fell in love with the game. It’s easy to learn, and I love the physicality of it, the contact, everything about it. And the team is just like a big brotherhood,” Kazhe-Kirgan said.

Coach Videla agreed. “These are guys that you are going to call up when you get married.”

Coach Videla encourages anyone who has an interest in joining the team to come to practice. The team practices Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. on the upper intramural fields. 

“I’d like to have anybody and everybody try at least. That’s the way we got our best athletes, by just having them come try it out,” Videla said.

 To find out more about the club, visit the team’s Instagram page

(Kokopelli managing editor, Hannah Hunter, contributed to this story.)

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