Rugby club searching for committed students


Alex Kleinberg (kneeling) prepared to lead the other players through drills during a practice. Kleinberg plays for Norse RFC.

Students at NKU have a plethora of opportunities in front of them athletically. Every year our sports programs benefit from athletically gifted students that are driven to help NKU athletics excel, and with the recent step up to Division I these students are already fighting to stake NKU’s right to be there.

But what about the students that are more interested in tackling an opponent with the ball than in blocking a lay-up?

That’s exactly the type of student that NKU sophomore John Hislop hopes to get involved in his bid to create the Norse Rugby Football Club, dubbed the Norse RFC.

Hislop wants to tap into the pool of students that want to play a contact sport and “have them play a sport that’s tougher.”

“Rugby is constant action unless the ref blows a whistle, you don’t get that in football,” he said. “I just need the commitment, and that’s the hardest thing to do.”

Hislop, a construction management major, started the process of getting a rugby club fielded at NKU in October. He has already paid the majority of the fees associated with fielding a university-linked club, but said he wants to ensure his roster and management positions are filled before paying the remainder.

“I want to be the driving force in getting this started and then have committed people keep it going,” Hislop said. “There is a lot of work that goes into starting a team like this, I’m getting tired, but I just have to keep going with it.”

He has a coach, a place to practice and the initiative, now he just needs more players.

As of now, half of the management positions are unfilled, and Hislop said he has around seven committed players.  “I need more people that are committed to show up,” he said.

Ultimately, Hislop said he would like to have 17 to 20 players committed to playing for NKU by August, but according to USA Rugby rules, there is no limit to the amount of student athletes on a team. He said he knows that rugby isn’t a very big sport in the United States, but he wants people to get excited about it.

“I want people at our practices. I want people to watch us,” he said.  Part of his hope is that the Norse RFC will help boost school spirit at NKU.

As a college club sport, rugby is not part of the NCAA, so the Norse RFC would be a member of the USA Rugby League Great Lakes Division II, which uses a Rugby Union style of play consisting of 15 players on each side of the pitch, or playing field. The team would play 10 other universities in their division, including the University of Louisville and Xavier University.

Once the team fills up, Hislop plans to schedule test matches with other area rugby clubs, like the Lexington Blackstones, possibly the NKY Grubs and the club he played for last year, the Cincinnati Kelts.

“I need to take all the guys that want to play and teach them the game, get them their gear and try to get a grant from NKU to help get team equipment,” he said.

Hislop has already finished the team’s constitution for player, alumni and university rights. He said there will be academic restrictions for players such as keeping a decent GPA, and player fees to help fund the club.

“I want to see people there interested in playing rugby for NKU come out, but I need more commitment. I need people to show up.”