The Denton Rugby Club will play its first home game of the season Saturday at Denton’s new Vela Athletic Complex on Field 1. The women’s game begins at 11 a.m., followed by the men’s game at 2 p.m.
The club has been around since 1972, but there still may be some Denton residents who don’t know much about the sport. Coach Art Anderson said that when he first joined the club, the focus was mostly on using brute force. Today, there is a stronger focus on developing skills.
“A lot of people try to relate it to football with no pads,” Anderson said. “But it’s more of a transition game, like basketball, because you play offense and defense. You have to have all skill sets.”
Women’s captain Marie Wilson said the club is not just about the sport itself — a big part of the atmosphere is the camaraderie between players.
“Because it’s a global sport, no matter where you go, you’re going to find someplace to play,” Wilson said. “It’s really a global family.”
Club president Andy Chapman learned this when he moved to Denton. Originally from England, Chapman has also lived in Germany and now the U.S.
“Being English, we start playing rugby when we’re very little,” Chapman said. “When I moved here 13 years ago, I looked for a club and I was surprised that there was one in Denton.”
Chapman said he recruits people he meets throughout town in bars, gyms and even the grocery store. He said recruiting people is always important because many players live in Denton for a short time, then move on.
Anderson said the team was smaller than usual last season, but this allowed him to focus on developing the skills of the players he already had. Additionally, players will often recruit their friends, which is how Anderson found the club initially.
“I started because my best friend found rugby and said that I would love playing,” Anderson said. “And he was actually right. And now I’m coaching his son.”
Justin Adams is one of the younger players in the club. He said he grew up watching his dad play, having no idea he would one day be on the same team.
“Once I got out of high school, Art and my dad dogged on me to get out here,” Adams said.
He compared his experience with rugby to his time playing high school football because of the friendships he has gained.
“You get a camaraderie with guys that you’ve never met before,” Adams said. “Like Andy. He’s, what, 30 years older than I am and I consider him a friend now.”
Wilson said there is not just one type of person who can play rugby. She said that anyone who is interested in playing should come to a practice because rugby is not limited to a certain body type or skill level.
“We have a lot of people that didn’t think that they could play any sport, let alone something like rugby,” she said. “And yet, here they are. It’s really one of the only sports where it doesn’t matter what your size is. It doesn’t matter your age [or] your perceived athletic ability. There’s going to be a spot for you.”
Saturday’s game is free to attend. Visit www.facebook.com/dentonrugby for more information about the Denton Rugby Club.