Gladiators take over campus

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Gladiators take over campus

PHOTOS BY TAM DUONG JR./THE PIONEER

PHOTOS BY TAM DUONG JR./THE PIONEER

PHOTOS BY TAM DUONG JR./THE PIONEER

Louis LaVenture,
Sports and Campus Editor

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Despite originating in England in the 1800s, most Americans, and people in general for that matter, know very little about the game of rugby.
Imagine the physicality of football minus the pads with a bigger ball. Then add the endurance needed to play soccer, some rule differences and there you have it: rugby.

The Life Chiropractic College West in Hayward is one of the few institutions in the area to carry rugby that has two different variations, rugby football and rugby union or simple rugby. The Gladiators play the latter of the two styles, which has two more players, 15 as opposed to 13, but still many of the same principles and rules.

In order to score the ball must cross the goal line, however the ball can’t be passed forward it has to be pitched back and if it goes out of bounds there is a line out play that is similar to an inbounds play in basketball.

Five points are awarded if the ball crosses the goal line, then a conversion kick worth two points follows a scoring play. Teams can also kick a field goal from anywhere on the field which is worth three points.

2014 was the first year of men’s rugby for Life Chiropractic College West, who saw huge success in their first full season that began on Jan. 11, 2014. According to the schools website, the Gladiators finished the season, “placing second at the 2014 National Championship and went on to win the Northern California, Pacific Northwest and Western Conference Championship titles.”

As for the women, or the Gladiatrix, this is their first season as a team but the physicality of rugby is not lost on all of the newcomers to the team.
“We do want to be physical as a team, that is something we talk about but I only know one way when I play sports and that is go hard,” said Valovalo Noa, a 21-year-old that plays the hooker position for Life Chiropractic College Wes. “We are physical but I just go hard all the time in any sport I play. That’s the only way I know.”

Both teams were in action on Saturday at Cal State East Bay, which is the home field for both teams; first the women against the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club followed by the men against the Sacramento Capitals.

It was clear from the start of both matches that the Gladiators and the Gladiatrix wanted to play a physical style that the other teams wanted to avoid. The Gladiatrix dominated SFGG and won by a final score of 48-15. The Gladiators managed to come back and defeat the Capitals despite trailing at halftime 16-14. The Gladiators scored 42 unanswered points and the game ended in a blowout by a final score of 56-16.

The physical demand is very high to play in this brutal sport. The NFL has come under fire in recent years for the way it has handled the safety of its players, primarily head injuries that have severe long term effects on players.

However, rugby has the same full speed collisions without any padding, which makes the hits seem even more violent and dangerous than football. The players crash into each other while running as fast as they can in opposite directions without helmets, shoulder pads, or anything except their jersey and shorts.
The women got things started after they jumped out to a huge lead over SFGG relying on their physical play to take control of the match, led by Noa who made several big hits in the game and outside center Jennifer Sever who was in the middle of a lot of the action on the field.

“We are a big, physical, aggressive team. I am kind of like a quarterback out there in my position,” Sever said. “Some teams like to be evasive and use their speed to get advantages but we tend to use a more physical style and take it up the middle.”