November 14, 2002

front page
more news
ad information
contact information


Rugby returns to Antioch

Members of the Antioch College (in stripes) and Ohio State women’s rugby teams practice earlier this month on the Antioch ‘golf course.’

The crowds that follow the Antioch College Radicals, the women’s rugby team, are as entertaining as the game itself and make the wait worthwhile on a cold windy Saturday on the Antioch “golf course.”

In the Antioch tradition, nothing ever starts on time. On Saturday, Nov. 2, the women’s team from Ohio State University and the Radicals practiced their scrummages and their rucks long after the 2 o’clock start time, as both teams patiently waited for the crowd to grow in size and fervor.

By the time the match started, a typical Antioch crowd had gathered for the spectacle. One man with dreadlocks sorted a bag of freshly picked Swiss chard as he casually observed the game. A few people with blue- and gold-painted faces (the Antioch colors) ran up and down the field, pumping up the rest of the crowd, who were mostly smoking cigarettes and trying to figure outthe rules of the game.

Confusion floated through the crowd, and questions about the terminology and scoring system were heard just as often as the cheers of encouragement.

“Honestly, I’m baffled myself, and I used to play the game,” said Judy Kintner, director of physical education at Antioch.

One woman on the OSU team, when asked about what one score equalled in points, responded, “I have no idea.”

The only people who seemed to have a firm grasp on the rules were Antioch player-coach Jen Doscher, the OSU coach and the referee.

The Antioch squad started playing in a few regular games in the fall of 1999, due in large part to the leadership of Melinda Kanner, a former associate professor at the college. After a lull in participation for a year, a few players attempted to get the team started again.

“There’s been interest in every term, but the availability of an instructor was the main problem,” said Kintner.

Finally, Doscher, a fourth-year student, stepped forward and offered to coach this year’s team.

Rugby is not for those with weak stomachs. Players do not wear any protective padding. This lack of protection, combined with almost constant physical contact in the form of tackling and pushing, results in a few injured players every game.

“This game is only the second one I’ve ever been to. So far I can tell that it’s way more brutal than football,” said Alex Needham, a fourth-year student at Antioch.

Needham’s class, which entered in 1999, has been the first to see sports return to Antioch since the 1928 Bluejackets, the notoriously terrible men’s baseball team, and the men’s football team, which disbanded in the same year.

Since the Radicals are now Antioch’s only sports team and since rugby is one of the more uncommon sports on the college circuit, many treat the team with a mix of pride and novelty.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before. But I think a lot of people in the crowd just want to see blood,” Needham said.

A few moments later, Needham’s prediction came true. Towards the beginning of the second half of the match last Saturday, two of the players collided in a high speed race for the ball. Ten minutes later, a Miami Township Fire-Rescue ambulance was called to take away the injured. Both women were reported to be fine and they even showed up to the next practice, bandages and all.

Explaining why such a brutal sport would be played at Antioch, Kintner said: “I think this game is more about knowing your capacities. It’s about pushing yourself through a team effort, through a group effort. I think at a place like Antioch, which can almost overemphasize individuality sometimes, that’s unique here. We need something like that. It’s not as brutal as it is cathartic.”

—Michael Hogan Jr.