LANSING, MICH - It’s the sport of scrums, rucks and lineouts.
It’s rugby and a group of the best players from across Michigan, many from the west side, are preparing to take on the Midwest’s best this weekend.
"Kids come out usually their senior year usually because they are afraid of injury," says Rugby Michigan president Mike Jacob, "then they get out there and say why haven’t I been doing this my entire life? Two weeks ago, we had an All-Star game. East vs. West, Stars vs. Stripes and then from that out of performance we took the best 22 guys that we could to form this team."
The Michigan Select rugby team has been practicing for the past two weeks in Lansing, before heading to Indianapolis for the tournament. Many of these guys have only been playing a few years but the love is already there.
"I started my freshman year and I fell in live with it instantly," says Bryan Batten, outside center from Grand Haven, "There’s no other sport like it, the contact, no pads, there’s a brotherhood as well."
"Not a lot of people like it, still there’s not a whole lot of people that understand it," says Josh Smith from Holland West Ottawa, "What people don’t know is you join a team like this and it doesn’t matter, an all-star team or not, it’s a brotherhood."
It’s a sport you have to watch several times to understand but it seems so pure.
"The fatigue in rugby like every game the fatigue, your body is just dead," says Rockford's Nate Curtis, "It’s a different tired than wrestling or football, I don’t know how to explain it."
This tournament will be full of scouts from USA Rugby and colleges across the region. These players have a chance to show off their best skills while playing alongside the best players.
"Everybody here’s very intelligent, everybody here knows the sport very well so they learn things fast and we like to keep it basic," says Sparta's Nate Robbins, "It’s tough on a time crunch like this but when you have kids coming from Detroit and kids coming from Grand Rapids, it’s hard to get everybody together but I think we’re in a good spot."
First they play Ohio and from there they can keep beating other Midwest teams to punch a ticket to nationls.
"We’re really excited to take these kids down to be exposed to those USA Rugby and college selectors but also to show that Rugby Michigan is up and coming," says Jacob, "We’re ready to compete with the likes of Ohio and Indiana."
"Oh we’re going to kill it, we’re going to kill it," says Batten, "That’s for sure."
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