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Rugby club engages the world through sport (and food)
Rugby club engages the world through sport (and food)March 27, 2007SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
Heeding Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor’s call for internationalization of the college experience, 25 members of the Syracuse University Men’s Rugby Club planned and participated in a nine-day, six-city tour of England over Spring Break.
After an overnight flight, a 7 a.m. arrival at Manchester Youth Hostel in the historic Calderfield Canal Basin provided the first cultural challenge, a full English breakfast. The bacon, eggs and sausage were familiar but the mushrooms, fried tomatoes, baked beans, black pudding and fried bread less so. The team attacked this challenge with gusto, and the breakfast beans became a morning favorite.
Other challenges were linguistic and athletic, as the team visited the “training pitch” (practice facility) of the Sale Sharks (http://www.salesharks.com), where ex-professional player and current youth coach Pete Anglesea put the student-athletes through a physical workout designed to overcome jet lag.
The group’s hostel was conveniently located 15 minutes from Manchester City Center and 15 minutes from the newly established cultural center of the Salford Quays, providing the team opportunities to visit the “Theater of Dreams” at Old Trafford, the Lowry Gallery devoted to northern artist L.S. Lowry, and the Imperial War Museum North.
Along with practice time at the training pitch, the team enjoyed front row seats for a Sale Sharks game, courtesy of Sale Sharks commercial director Nathan Bombrys ’05, a Syracuse University Rugby Club alumnus.
The games began in earnest on day three against Manchester University’s Select XV. Syracuse scored first, but despite the support of visiting alumni from Tokyo, London and Syracuse, the speed and technique of the English players led to a close victory for the home side. This was the first of four games in three days — two more in Manchester and one in Liverpool against John Moore’s University. Again, the experience and technique of the home sides were too much for the Syracuse squad to handle, despite some impressive driving phases by the team.
The tour continued to the historic cities of Chester, York and Leeds. All the clubs visited offered the Syracuse group hospitality and gifts of club ties, shirts and plaques. Spending time with the English students proved an outstanding experience for the Syracuse visitors.
Beyond the athletic challenge of playing six games in nine days against top college teams and players, the England tour gave the SU students a valuable international learning experience as well as the motivation for the SU men’s A and B teams to subsequently win championships in their divisions at the prestigious Pittsburgh Tournament on March 24. [The SU women’s club team also took first-place honors in its division.]
For more on the rugby club, visit http://students.syr.edu/mensrugby.