I wanted to start this column with one of the rugby songs that are sung before, during, and after games, but I don't think my editor would let it off the desk. Anyone who has had the privilege of going to a rugby game knows that while there may be seven words you can't say on telegision, nothing is taboo among rugby players.
Rugby has the largest turnout of any intercollegiate sport at harvard except football. It has two seasons, fall and spring, and close to sixty people consistently turn out for each one.
It also happens to be a club sport here as well as at most other eastern American colleges, so despite the lwrge turnout it gets no university funding and cannot be sure from one season to the next if it will have a field to play on.
Your image of a rugby player probably place him somewhere between Attila the Hun and Ivan the Terrible on your spectrum of nasty people. But I've roomed with three rugby players in my three years here and my fingers can still type, so I think we can dispel that notion.
Actually, I'm told that rug by players are more like Billy Carter although their endeavors are not quite so lucrative. Rugby without beer is, well, it's like Ginger Rodgers without Fred Astaire, or like Widener without the stacks.
To belong to the Rugby Club costs twenty dollars per term. Most of this goes to buying balls and beer, both of which are mandatory before a game can take place. Uniforms and travelling expenses come out of each player's pocket. Among the trips in the last few years have been to Bermuda and new Orleans for Mardi Gras.
Rugby has existed at harvard since 1874 and it has been a club sport since at least the 1950s. It is an entirely selfsufficient enterprise in that all the administrative work and the coaching is done by the player themselves.
For the players, the benefits of this set-up seem to outweigh the difficulties. Senior Peter Hilton has served as backfield captain/coach since the spring term of his sophomore year.
"Picking teams is a little bit of a hassle," he says. "These people are your friends, so you have to try hard to be objective when you pick who is going to play on the A team every week. You have to pick the people who deserve it. If a guy comes to you and wants to know why you've made a decision, you've got to be able to give him an honest answer.
Treasurer Bob Jennings sees the financial side of being independent from the University as a detriment, but also sees the Club's autonomy as a plus. "If they would just buy us two or three balls a year that would just buy us two or three balls a year that would be great," he said last night.
"We want to keep our flexibility, though, and our ability to be a social organization. If the University hired coaches for us, they would want to cut players and one of the beauties of the way we run things is that almost everyone gets to play every week."
The Club is composed of all types. Many are athletes who didn't want the discipline or intensity of playing a varsity sport in college but want exercise. All of them appreciate the friendship and cameraderie of Rugby.
There are, of course the legends of Harvard Rugby, most recently, Ed Waterhouse, who knew all the Harvard policemen by their first names "and it wasn't because of his civic activities," Jennings said.
And now that my roomate isn't watching me type this, I can tell you the truth about rugby. You know those stickers that say "Give blood, Play rugby,"? Well,.....