Kicking off with 17 players and a game on Sept. 11, the Ragin’ Cajuns rugby team is ready to dominate this season. This season, in particular, will be very interesting as the majority of the team are underclassmen.
Team Captain, Dell Portwood first got his start as a freshman after being followed around by someone on the rugby team. “I didn’t have anything to do the night of the practice, and I went out and fell in love with the sport,” Portwood said.
He found that the people on the team are great. He got to learn something new, and it was a nice alternative to football. So he decided to stick with it. Now as an upperclassman, he’s taking a leadership role for the team. “This year we have mostly new players and mostly sophomores and freshmen,” Portwood said.
Like many sports, there has been an adjustment period due to COVID-19. There used to be a larger core of people that knew the sport, but it has been harder to recruit over the past year. Still, establishing fundamentals is something the team will strive to do for all their players.
“This year is a really great opportunity because we get to teach so many new guys that are eager to learn,” Portwood said.
For anyone wanting to join the team, practices are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the intramural fields. “There’s no try-out process, if you’re willing to show up and willing to work hard you’re gonna play. We don’t discriminate against anybody,” he said.
A typical practice focuses on conditioning first and foremost. In addition to those sprints and long-distance runs, a major focus is on tackling.
“We’re slowly but surely getting back into contact, practicing our tackling form and also going over game strategy. It’s a pretty fast-paced practice because we like to get in and get out,” he said.
Aside from university support, the rugby team has a few coaches that help out.
“We practice with the Acadiana Men’s Club, which is the men’s rugby club of Lafayette. We’ve helped build their program and they’ve helped build our program,” Portwood said.
They also have guest coaches from time to time.
The intramural fields behind Blackham Coliseum are also where spectators can see the rugby team in action for their home games. They will play at home on Sept. 25 at 11 a.m. and on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. If you can’t make a home game, their biggest game of the season is against LSU in Baton Rouge.
“Since LSU just dropped down to our bracket, we’ve never played them before and we look forward to seeing what they have to offer,” Portwood said.
This season will be a great opportunity for anyone interested to check out the rugby team. It’s a fun family atmosphere, and you get to meet a lot of new people.
“You get to learn a new sport and there’s definitely a community behind it, the game itself is fun, but so is the atmosphere,” Portwood said.
Not everyone has had the opportunity to see a rugby game growing up, but having the experience is something you’ll get to tell your friends and family about.