Rugby Club Tackles Student Athlete Stress

The King’s College once predominantly churned out students who wore full suits to school and aspired to become lawyers. As the school has grown, so has the diversity of the student body’s preference for career fields and extracurricular activities. Now nearly 20 percent of students participate in athletics—still not everyone wants to wake up at five o’clock in the morning to go to practice in Brooklyn or spend hours in busses traveling to games outside the city.

Will Bortins, president of the rugby club, calls rugby “the low-stress sport.” With practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays at six o’clock in the evening, club members don’t have to sacrifice their other priorities to participate.

Rugby is a fast-paced game that Bortins describes as “a mix between soccer and football.” Like football, the ball moves down the field with runs, passes, kicks, and tackles. But like soccer, the time runs continuously rather than resetting with each tackle.

The style of rugby played by the club involves teams of seven players, playing for 14 minutes with a one-minute halftime. Because the games are short, ‘sevens’ competitions often take the form of tournaments, where each team plays three or four games.

Bortins, a junior-business student in the House of C.S. Lewis, created the rugby club to address the need he saw. He participated in a rugby club at school his freshman year that was poorly run and eventually fell apart.

Bortins loved the rugby community and what it could offer, so he started the club a year ago with a few friends. But their small numbers did not stop them from having a good time.

Last spring, Bortins and two or three other guys traveled to games where they did not have the minimum seven players. But Bortins walked up to their competitors and asked to borrow their extra players. They never had a problem getting enough guys to play. This friendly attitude pervades the rugby culture.

“People in rugby want rugby to grow,” Bortins said.

Since its small beginnings, the rugby club has grown to at least nine committed players, and Bortins said he believes the numbers will continue to expand.

The best part of the club is the social environment, which includes informal hangouts with the guys. Club member Mike Forcella said, “Even though I’m on four sports teams, this is the most fun.” Bortins hopes to open up this fun-loving community to more people.

He thinks the biggest problem facing the rugby club is lack of exposure. He and the executive team are planning an event for the end of the semester that will be open to the student body to attend. While no details are nailed down yet, he hopes the event will give the club the chance to introduce people to rugby who are unfamiliar and spark the interest of future members. Bortins is excited to continue leading the rugby team in his senior year, with some familiar faces and hopefully plenty of new ones.

The original version of this piece was published in Issue 8 of the EST Magazine

CampusJared Neikirk