In the scrum with rugby
Rugby student captain Scott Fulton rebuilt the club the right way
CSU freshman and club rugby member Tez Thornton tackles a former member at a September practice on Krenzler Field. Photo by Tony Carter
At first glance, the terms 'ruck', 'maul' and 'scrum' might read like a night of fistacuffs at the Viking Tavern during finals week. Conversely, these terms are vocabulary used by the 22 brutes who make up Cleveland State University's club rugby team.
These warriors have been battling on pitches (fields to Americans!) for the past two years and are on the rise. Lead by team president and captain Scott Fulton, these Vikings are introducing CSU to a European sport through centuries of rich tradition and a multitude of heart-stopping hits.
As things begin to take shape for Fulton and the team, it hasn't always been a walk on the pitch.
Fulton hit high school wanting to play football as most of his friends were doing, but he was discouraged by his parents. With football out of the question and Fulton finding other sports like soccer unappealing, he was introduced by his older cousin to a different kind of sport - rugby.
"I watched [some games] and came to a practice and absolutely loved it," Fulton said.
He explained that it's not just the game that allured him.
"[Rugby] has its own traditions - the guys are always hanging out after the games," he said. "I like the camaraderie of it."
Fulton was hooked. He joined the Vikings rugby club his freshman year in 2007 simply as a player, only to watch the team fall apart due to poor management. As a result, the Vikings were removed from the Ohio Rugby Union, disbanded and once again left Fulton teamless.
Without a team and desperate for his game back, Fulton paired up with former teammate Ben Fondale to rebuild rugby at CSU the right way.
Being named captain on the field as well as president off the field, Fulton restored the game he loved back at CSU and was looking to recruit. According to Fulton, the response was slow at first.
"The first practice (last year) I think we had four guys, and then by the end of the year we had six or eight," he said. "The first practice this spring we had 30."
As a proud grin crossed Fulton's face, he continued, "It has been great. I'm hoping the numbers get even bigger."
In order to do that, Fulton knows that player turnout will increase through hard work and better play during matches. As Fulton simply stated, "You play how you practice."
With how much Fulton and Fondale have accomplished in such a short period of time, there's reason to be hopeful for the future. The Vikings are back in the Ohio Rugby Union competing against neighboring clubs such as Hiram, Cedarville and even Indiana's Hanover College.
CSU rugby club is gaining ground, scrum by scrum.
For more information about joining Cleveland State Rugby, contact Scott Fulton at email@example.com.
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