Going forward, the plans for rugby at Thunderbird are ambitious, as the alumni plan to establish a team in the upcoming years at Thunderbird or independently. They plan to focus on allowing past and present students to be a part of the rich legacy of rugby at Thunderbird.
For now, the rugby match played during the 75th Anniversary Celebration at Thunderbird served as a glimpse of what is to come. The match was played by a large group of alumni as well as students, or as said by John Proctor (Class of 1985), “everyone that…want[s] to play.” The teams featured T-birds from across the years, including Michael Mulcahy (Class of 1977), Chuck Hamilton (Class of 1991), Jim Emilie (Class of 1977), and Landon Fabre, Bill McColl, and Nicholas Penna.
The pre-match preparations were in full swing even before the spectators arrived, and the team division was done by the time the audience sat to view the match with beers in their hands. The team division was done based on colour, as one team wore light blue shirts while the second team wore dark blue shirts. At the beginning of the match, they evened out the players so that each team had an equal number of people.
At the sound of the first whistle, the match was underway. In rugby, you have 15 players on each side. There is a scrum, which includes eight players tightly bound together, with the goal being to push over the ball that is placed in the center of the scrum. There are three players in the front row, four players in the second row, and the team’s “eight man” in the back, a player responsible for holding the scrum together. The scrum half, wearing jersey number nine, will feed the ball into the scrum while the rest of the team sets up for the next phase.
The match started with a bang, and the first try (at goal) was achieved by the light blue team. As the match progressed, there were lots of tackles and people getting involved in the game. The audience truly felt the rush of the game.
After the first half of the game, the score was 14 to 7, with the light blue team in the lead. Exploding out of the half, Larry Pope made an 80-metre break to the try zone.
Another goal was scored by the light blue team, with another run of over 75 metres by Chris Campbell for a try. Thus, with that, the match concluded, with the light blue team winning by a good margin.
Although the match was a great treat to watch, the aftermath of the match was equally fun, as the winning team had to shotgun a beer out of a shoe and squeeze it out of a sock as well. All the players seemed satisfied with their bruises and marks from the game.
Rugby is more than a match. And this Thunderbird competition was a reminder of the community that people find within the sport. After 80 minutes of hurdling at one another, it’s tradition to bust out the beers for the post-game social because despite whatever happens in the game, everyone shares a beer together at the end of all the chaos. There was a moment of reminiscing about the game, as the students involved in the game learned from the alumni. This rugby match also reflected the alumni’s goal of reinforcing rugby’s legacy at Thunderbird. That goal was clear from all the participation of people in the game.
The entire match and vibe of alcohol, music, and rugby made a very happy environment for people, and it’s safe to say that the players went home with bruises and a sense of accomplishment, while the audience (including myself) enjoyed the ambiance of the evening.
Moving forward, I feel we can break barriers and have new accomplishments for rugby at Thunderbird.