Playing ball: NYU rugby team enters final game of season

Jeremy Stebens for WSN


Rugby football, a game of elegance and aggression, origina-ted in the early 19th century and is played worldwide. The same basic rules apply to rugby union and rugby league, two distinctive forms of rugby: get the ball over the line for a 5-point try.

Started in 1996 by a group of Stern graduate students and later combined with other NYU graduate schools, the Stern Rugby Football Club kicked off competitive rugby play in NYU.

Since then, the NYU rugby scene has been steadily growing as interest expands. After years of being only adjuncts to the graduate team, Old Violet — led by senior and team captain Yuriy Trimba, and until recently coached by SCPS graduate student Gary McCormick — has been trying to organize its team of undergraduates to become an official school club. It continues to seek members.

Playing officially as a sevens team — a truncated form of rugby with seven players on each team instead of 12 or 15 — since the 2012 spring semester, the men completed their first tournament in late November of that year, where they were knocked off in the semi-finals by a stiff Canadian side.

“We finally got to play undergrads … and got a taste of real college rugby. It was also a fun experience to be the sole leader on the field,” said Trimba, who usually shares his captain duties with a graduate student when they play joint 15s, rugby with 15 players.

Old Violet is comprised of players of a range of skill levels.

“Most guys on the team who are undergraduates usually start out in college,” said Trimba, describing sophomore fly-half Hubert Chan. “He actually played for their [Hong Kong] national under [a] 14s team before moving to the United States and he picked it up again in college.”

Losing volunteer coach Gary McCormick last week was a blow to the team, but Trimba is grateful for the work McCormick put in.

“Really solid guy, taught us a lot about rugby and our team became so much better because of him,” said Trimba.

An old English proverb says, “Rugby is a game of scoundrels played by gentlemen,” but on the pitch the rugby team, Old Violet, look like stallions. Despite losing 35-3 in their semi-annual rivalry game “The Gotham Cup” against Columbia’s team Old Blue, Old Violet played a vicious defensive game in the second half.

“Although their forwards were really big, we weren’t afraid to get in and get the tackle … it was a tough game,” said prop Kiyoshi Atkins.

“Our presence wasn’t there [in the first half]. We needed to wake up,” said Chan.

The Old Violets play their final game of the season, united with the graduate team, at the 15s MBA Tournament at Duke University in North Carolina.

Francisco Navas is deputy sports editor. Email him at [email protected]