Before suiting up for one of the CSUF Men’s Rugby club games, Brawley Fowler and his teammates may get nervous, but everything changes when they go out on the field. When Fowler’s efforts to weave through defenders comes to an end with a bone-crunching hit, it’s not just pain he feels.
“You go out there and it’s like war. You guys go at it. But right after the game, it’s just nothing but respect and you guys eat together and sing songs,” said Fowler, criminal justice major.
The club sport was founded on campus in 1985.
“The purpose of the club is to promote the physical, social and mental well-being of an individual through the game of rugby, and the only requirement for membership is to be a full-time student enrolled at CSUF,” according to the club’s Rugby Constitution.
The number of club members fluctuates from 20 to 35 throughout the semester depending on class schedules and other obligations of the student-athletes, said Vice President Kyle Do.
“Ideally, we would want them to stay the whole year, but school comes first,” Do said.
The Men’s Rugby club president, Nathan Amezcua, said the club plays at a Division I intercollegiate level, where they face colleges like Cal State Long Beach, Azusa Pacific University, Grand Canyon University and Claremont College.
Whether it’s the competition, camaraderie or simple love of the game, club members expressed how important the game was to their lives and what it has taught them.
Do, a third-year undeclared major, said he was originally interested in playing soccer but members from the rugby club approached him first, so he decided to try it. He said he originally played the sport because of the competitive aspect but after getting multiple brain injuries, he continues to play because he “enjoys playing the game so much.”
“A lot of people say, including my doctors, ‘It’s not worth it. You’re just a 20-year-old and you have a long life to give. It’s not worth playing rugby,’” Do said. “It’s really hard to swallow that advice or that life-limiting rule so that’s why I continue to go out and practice and contribute to the team.”
Amezcua has played on the rugby team for five years. He said he came to CSUF to wrestle, but the team was discontinued the year he was accepted into the university, so he decided to try rugby and “fell in love with it.”
“I just love how fast-paced it is compared to American football. I love the rules, the camaraderie, also just the atmosphere of the sport itself,” Amezcua said.
Fowler said he started playing rugby in high school about seven or eight years ago. He said he chose Cal State Fullerton after receiving his associate degree in criminal justice because playing on a rugby team was a priority for him and not a lot of colleges offer rugby.
“The sport itself, it challenges you and it’ll push you to your limits and it’ll make you ask how hard you want to push it,” Fowler said. “When we come out here and we run and we do our fitness, it changes you as a person.”
The club recruits members every semester, Do said.
“It’d be great to have any guys come. It’s open to any type of person really. You can be a small guy like myself or (a) big, unfit person. You just have to have the willingness to learn and the energy just to try something new,” Do said.