Saturday is game time for the Clovis Nomads, with the rugby squad well into its third season.
The Nomads (2-2) have been in operation for four seasons, and first started league play in the 2008-09 season. Players on the team run from 18 to 40 years old, and interest has run high enough for coach David North to have a team that can compete in the Division III section of USA Rugby.
The visiting Albuquerque-based Brujos are a Division II team, a step up for in competition for the Nomads. Gametime is set for 1 p.m. at the teams’ pitch, near the city soccer fields along 14th and Norris streets.
“Finding someone to play was a hard part,” North said. “The parks department was fantastic. They found a place by the soccer pitch. We can’t thank them enough.”
North said the $170 fee it pays the city to line the fields before a contest is one of many expenses, and numerous sponsors help defray the costs of uniforms, USA rugby dues and equipment costs.
Rugby is played on a grass field, with a maximum size of 100 meters long and 70 meters wide. There are 15 players to a side. Teams play a pair of 40-minute halves.
There are three ways a team can score. A team can either score five points on a try by running the ball into the goal area, similar to an end zone for football. A team can also score by kicking the ball through the goal posts, either two points for a post-try conversion or three points for a goal kick (either in play or off of a penalty kick).
“There’s an inside center and an outside center, similar to a running back in football,” said Jake Boazman, who plays center for the Nomads. “When the ball comes out of the pack, our job is to spread the field. Typically, we’re the faster guys on the team. We’re trying to make holes in the field.
“You have to lateral the ball, rather than throw it down the field. You’re lateraling it between four or five people, looking to make a hole.”
An analogy to the offense would be an American-rules football team trying to score a desperation kickoff return with laterals. No forward passing is allowed in rugby.
When a player is tackled, he must let go of the ball, which is then a free ball.
To an outsider, the sport looks like 80 minutes of violence with a ball and striped shirts. The sport, like any, takes acclimation, said Scott Eggert, who joined the team in August with no prior rugby experience.
“It’s exciting,” Eggert said. “It’s like playing a new game every time. You learn something new every time you play or train.”
Eggert said 10 minutes into his first match, “my nose got busted open,” but the competition of the sport is worth the bumps and bruises.
“It’s a contact sport,” said North, who is originally from Devon, England. “You’ve got to control your aggression.
The Nomads schedule, available at clovisnomads.com, also includes family events in addition to games.
“There’s a real bond between us all,” Eggert said. “It’s a bunch of grown men playing another sport.”