Rugby Returns to Carnegie Mellon

Since the beginning of 2004, the intramural fields have been the setting for an athletic rebirth. The Carnegie Mellon University Rugby Football Club, which was last active in 1999, has returned to campus. The team is looking to begin its first regular season in five years after finishing the ongoing process of applying to become an official club sport.

The idea of restarting the team was put in motion by members of the Pittsburgh Harlequins, the city?s nationally recognized rugby club. According to head coach Chip Lenzi, a Harlequin and United States of America Rugby Football Union (USARFU) certified coach and referee: ?Our goal is to build a strong athletic organization within Carnegie Mellon University. We have commitment from four coaches, we have commitment from our players, and we will receive the commitment and funding from the university.? When the team is given this club status, it will become a probationary member of the Allegheny Rubgy Union, which would bring competition from West Virginia University and the University of Pittsburgh, among others.

Lenzi, whose coaching experience includes the club teams at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Robert Morris University, likes the chances of the young team to develop into a revered squad over time ? ?We have a solid commitment from the guys and girls that are out here. There are opportunities for us to play anywhere in the nation, even out of country, in team playoff venues and team tournaments or based on both team and individual talent we have the opportunity to be a well-recognized team throughout the rugby community.?

The players on the squad reflect their coach?s enthusiasm for the sport. Aashish Goswami, a junior in chemical and biomedical engineering and member since the team?s latest inception, was drawn to the sport after playing Australian rules football in past summers. ?It?s great to be back in a team environment; it?s something I haven?t had since playing soccer in high school,? said Goswami. ?We have the camaraderie and traveling [for away games] of a varsity team, without a huge time commitment. We?ll have about two practices a week with a game on the weekends, and we?ve got one of the country?s nicest fields just outside the city.? He refers to the Harlequins? newly-built rugby facilities located in Indiana Township, where the Tartans will have their home games.

However, the men aren?t the only ones excited about the addition. In 2004, for the first time ever, Carnegie Mellon will field a women?s rugby club. With big turnouts through the first series of practices, Coach Lenzi has hope that the women?s team will be active in early 2005.

While Lenzi has high hopes for the teams, he knows that more recruiting needs to be done for both squads before they can fully take shape. ?The kids we?ve got coming out to practice are doing a great job. We?ve even been getting more girls than guys showing up,? he said. ?It?s good to have small squad practices like these because you get lots of individual attention between players and coaches and also you get the chance to teach the game on a more personal basis.

?Although the drawback with this is that since we?ll have only 15 guys show up [the amount needed for a regulation rugby match], we can?t have full scrimmages, and that?s an experience our players are missing out on right now. Ideally we?d have about fifty on each squad.?

The Tartans men?s rugby club will start its season October 2 at Clarion University.