returns to Antioch
of the Antioch College (in stripes) and Ohio State womens
rugby teams practice earlier this month on the Antioch golf
The crowds that follow
the Antioch College Radicals, the womens 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 womens team from Ohio State University and the Radicals practiced
their scrummages and their rucks long after the 2 oclock 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, Im 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.
Theres 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 years 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 Ive ever been to. So far
I can tell that its way more brutal than football, said Alex
Needham, a fourth-year student at Antioch.
Needhams class, which entered in 1999, has been the first to see
sports return to Antioch since the 1928 Bluejackets, the notoriously terrible
mens baseball team, and the mens football team, which disbanded
in the same year.
Since the Radicals are now Antiochs 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.
Ive 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, Needhams 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. Its
about pushing yourself through a team effort, through a group effort.
I think at a place like Antioch, which can almost overemphasize individuality
sometimes, thats unique here. We need something like that. Its
not as brutal as it is cathartic.
Michael Hogan Jr.