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Rugby team headed to playoffs for second straight year

Photo courtesy Calvin Rugby Facebook Page.
Photo courtesy Calvin Rugby Facebook Page.

A Calvin team is headed to the playoffs this year and few know about it.

“The men’s rugby team is headed to the NSCRO playoffs for the second year in a row,” said alumni Luke Berlin, who played for the rugby team from 2010 to 2013.

The NSCRO is the National Small College Rugby Organization, which is the host of small college national championships.

Rugby is a sport that involves tackling, goal scoring and running — all without pads. Rugby is a popular sport in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, said senior Reid Bode, the captain of the rugby team.

The rugby team boasts a diverse group of students reflecting the international popularity of rugby, Bode said.

“We have players from Africa, the Philippines and several missionary kids who played in other countries,” said Bode.

“We also have players from all over the U.S.,” added senior Jasper Shangle, who is on the rugby team’s leadership.

However, the team’s diversity isn’t limited to cultural diversity.

“We have people from many different backgrounds that I wouldn’t have known otherwise,” said Bode. “Some of the guys on the team are pharmaceutical students getting straight A’s, others are not getting good grades and one guy is a Civil War re-enactor.”

Not only does the team work together on the field, Shangle said, but they do stick together off the field as well.

“We have a service event planned,” Bode said, “and we helped put up some of the art for the artists during ArtPrize.”

In addition to service activities, the team also holds spiritual events.

“We have a weekly rugby Bible study,” Shangle said.

The Calvin rugby team brings a Christian perspective to the field, Bode said.

“On the field we kick their butts,” Bode said, “but off the field we give them hot dogs and shake their hands.”

The members of the rugby team work to create a welcoming atmosphere for the new players like those who went before them, Bode said.

“When I first started as a freshman, I was very nervous,” he said. “Then some of the senior leaders, who I try to imitate, went out of their way to welcome me.”

Saturday’s game against Hope will be the team’s first home game of the year. The game will start at 2:30 p.m. at the North Field, located behind the outdoor track.

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