Below is an excerpt from an article in Four Wheeler Magazine. Click here to read the full article.
We then arrived at the field where the rugby team was practicing. The men and women’s teams had taken up residence at the facility earlier in the year to train year-round for top-level competition, such as the World Cup in 2013 and then the Olympics. You could say rugby is new to the Olympics, but you’d be mostly wrong. It was introduced in the 1900 games as the rugby fifteens (named for a team of 15 players), and the U.S. holds the most gold medals for the 1920 and 1924 games. But in 1925 the International Olympic Committee removed it as a discipline. The rugby sevens (for a team comprised of seven) will be what debuts.
“So, we’re defending a title, technically, in 2016,” said player Taylor Mokate. “In a sense, we have more pressure to uphold that tradition than if it were the first time in the Olympics,” noted his teammate, Blaine Scully. The rugby team was deep in practice behind us as we stood on the sidelines talking to Taylor and Blaine; both were recovering from serious injuries.
Rugby players focus on speed endurance in training. “We obviously don’t run at the same pace the entire game, so you need to have endurance, but you can’t play this game if you can only run forever at one speed,” said Blaine. “You have to be quick, you have to be agile, and you have to be fast. Explosive athletes are the most successful at this game.”
The plan was for them to put Andrew through the same drills the team does—tackling, close contact, and blocking, as well as how to work from his knees. He’d played football in school, but one of the most noticeable differences between football and rugby is the lack of body padding. You immediately get a feel for the brute force used in the sport and how exactly they develop tree trunks for legs.