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By Gus Bode

The rain came and went, but that could not stop the SIUC Women’s Rugby Club from hosting the 10th annual ‘Ruggapalooza.’

These are rugby players after all.

For the 10th anniversary, the club decided to make the tournament special, including live bands and an inflatable slide.


Luke Mathews, president of the SIU Men’s Rugby Club, said the rugby club wanted to go ‘all out’ for the event this year.

‘We’ve got a bunch of bands out here and the tournament’s a little bit bigger,’ Mathews said. ‘They’ve done a real good job on setting it up.’

Mathews said teams from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri were represented in the tournament.

SIU women’s team captain Jessica Schleinzer said the tournament is a great way to get new players acquainted with the game.

‘It gives rookies chances to understand what positions are, how to play the game and then when we get to the union matches they know what they’re doing,’ Schleinzer said. ‘So, it’s basically just a big warm up.’

The women’s team captured fourth place in the tournament, going 1-3 with the lone win coming against the University of Illinois 19-0. The win was the first time SIU had beaten U of I since 2004.

The men’s team, meanwhile, finished 1-2 in the tournament, taking third place. The University of Indiana was able to defeat Ball State in the finale to take the championship.


But forwards’ coach Stephen Ellis said the tournament was not about winning, but getting accustomed to the team at hand.

‘This is just an opening opportunity,’ Ellis said. ‘It’s pretty much everyone’s first taste of rugby for the season. It gathers teams from all over the state, a couple out of the state, so you’re playing people you normally wouldn’t play against.’

Some of the bands appearing at the tournament included Footlight Frenzy, The Emerald Lizards, Juniper Mays and Surrender Dorothy.

And while the rain put a momentary stop to the music, it could not stop the teams from continuing to play.

Mathews said the game of rugby is like a mixture between football and soccer.

‘It’s a gentlemen’s game,’ Mathews said. ‘Certainly, as you can see, nobody’s wearing pads, so when you make a hit, you respect that person. It’s really about respecting your opponent, and at the end of the game we have a nice little social party.’

Schleinzer said she is anxious to get the season started.

‘I have high expectations for us,’ Schleinzer said. ‘We have a lot of rookies, but could always use more, and our vets are awesome.’

Stile Smith can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 259 or [email protected].