by Darby Self
The Arkansas State University rugby team has faced a multitude of difficulties throughout the course of 2020, but the passion seen in many of its players has helped to keep the program alive.
In March, the A-State rugby club’s regular season was unfortunately cut short. They ended the season with a 2-3 record, and did not get to face a handful of opponents that had originally been scheduled for the year.
Soon after their season was cut short, many international players on the team were forced to return home before their countries were put on lockdown due to COVID-19. The players were dispersed all around the globe, and they were unsure of what the future of the team looked like.
In the summer it was confirmed that there would be no fall rugby season, which is usually when the team prepares and works to get ready for the regular spring season. A few months later in the fall, it was announced that Blake White, the head coach of the rugby team, was resigning from his position. This left the team coachless, and uncertain of what steps to take next.
Winn Knight, a senior on the rugby team, said that not having a coach has been an eye opening experience. He said that him and his teammates have realized that they don’t necessarily need a coach to do the things they want to do or accomplish the things they want to accomplish. He also said that this year has brought the team closer together in ways that may not have been possible before.
“We’re able to run our own practices and run our own patterns. In a way, we’re thankful for this opportunity,” Knight said.
Though the rugby team has been handed a variety of trials and troubles this year, the players have proven that they are able to work through and overcome adversity. Their passion and love for the sport has been made evident through activities such as player led meetings, workouts and practices.
In addition to this, the club has reorganized and revamped the program to be structured similar to other organizations on the A-State campus. There is now a president, vice president, captain, treasurer, two social media managers and two social chairs. Knight said the team decided on these positions collectively so that when a new coach potentially arrives in the spring, there is already some sort of structure to the program.
Cameron Crane, a junior on the rugby team, said that their passion and drive is what has carried the players through what has been an incredibly hard year.
“I would say that everything the team has been through this year has taught us how to stay passionate in the face of adversity,” Crane said. “During the hard stuff, you can either choose to give up and give in. Or, you can choose to keep pushing and keep working. As a team I would say we’ve chosen to keep pushing.”
Passion leads to success of some kind. Passion obtains the power that is needed to push through difficult circumstances. Passion leads to purpose, and it is the energy that people need to keep them going. This energy that is inevitably created and developed because of a deep passion for something is what empowered the rugby team at A-State.
James Luecke, a junior on the rugby team, said the experiences that the team have encountered this year have helped to develop him and others into better leaders. He also said that going without a coach for several months has changed the dynamic of the team, and inevitably shown them what they had been doing right versus what they had been doing wrong.
“We want a coach, but I don’t think that the boys have skipped a beat this whole time,” Luecke said. “I think we have taken the steps necessary to become a national championship kind of team team even through everything that has been thrown our way.”
The players on the rugby team have surely proven that they have what it takes to overcome the hard things in life. They have shown that they have what it takes to keep this program alive and well.
The players are not completely sure of what the future looks like, and cannot say for certain what the spring will hold. They feel confident that a new coach will arrive in January 2021, but they cannot say for certain that this will be the case. No matter what, they are confident that their passion, love and zeal for the sport will keep the program alive. Not only this, they believe that it will keep the program successful and prosperous.