Oakland rugby club starting from scratch

The Oakland University rugby club has been in existence for roughly five years now, and with a whole new group of players on the squad, team president Joshua Makar is looking to bring the new group into the next era of the team.

With so many new players, Makar, who has been involved with the team for roughly a year and a half, has the task of being president as well as a teacher.

“This year, we have a turnover from the older guys to the new players, so we’re teaching a lot of guys how to play,” he said. “In the past, the team had a lot of veterans who had played since high school. Everyone is still learning.”

For team vice president Casey Burke, joining the team was an easy choice despite never playing the sport prior to his time at OU.

“I played football all throughout high school, so I was looking for another contact sport to play in college,” Burke said. “I had a buddy tell me about the team, so I came out for a practice and they taught me how to play.”

Having been with the team for over a year, Burke said he found the transition to rugby from football an easy one — especially the style of play.

“Football has set plays and rugby doesn’t stop, and you can kick the ball forward but not throw it forward,” Burke said. “It’s more free-flowing like soccer but with the hits and physicality of football.”

The team is aiming to expand its roster with any students who would like to join the team.

“We have about 15 or 16 people currently on the roster and we’d like to see about 10 to 15 more,” Maker said. “Twenty-two is a full squad, so we’re a little under right now. We welcome everyone. You can show up to any practice and we’ll teach you how to play.”

Playing in Division III, Makar’s squad plays teams from schools all across Michigan as well as out-of-state. Calvin College, Hillsdale College, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University and Bowling Green State University are some of the teams that OU has faced off against.

When OU plays at tournaments, the team goes up against much stiffer competition, including Central Michigan University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.

“There’s a big difference in size, mainly because they have more kids to choose from. The average height is probably about six inches taller than us, so we’re a short team,” Burke said. “We make up for it with intensity, though, so we can compete with the other teams.”

To help offset the costs of travel and referee pay, the team has begun to organize fundraisers, including an Oct. 23 event at the Post Bar and Grill. A portion of the proceeds will be going to the team fund.

“We’re probably one of the most underfunded clubs,” Maker said. “Apparently we had a bad rep from the older players, so we’re trying to make things good with the school. In the future, we’d like to see our team become a competitive Division I sport and keep up with some of the bigger rugby schools like Central (Michigan) or (Michigan) State.”

To get involved, students can contact Makar at [email protected] or (248)-709-5195.