The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Photo by Pammy Deckler.

Amoskeag Rugby Club

Home field: Thibeault Field, 900 Douglas St., Manchester 
Home game dates: The men’s competitive home games will take place on Saturdays, Sept. 10, Oct. 1, Oct. 22, Nov. 12, and April 8, typically starting at 1 p.m. Women’s competitive games will be Saturdays, Sept. 17, Sept. 24 and Oct. 29.

Full contact, nonstop action
Local rugby club welcomes spectators

By Angie Sykeny

 The New Hampshire Amoskeag Rugby Club, the largest and longest-running rugby club in the state, is made up of more than 500 members from throughout central and southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts and even hosts players from the U.K., Australia, France and other parts of the world.

“It’s definitely a growing sport,” club President Alex Gatzoulis said. “We’re seeing a lot more of it in high schools and colleges, and over the past few years it’s been on TV, picked up by NBC Sports and even ESPN every once in a while. Now especially with the Olympics going on, I expect it will grow more in popularity.”
Rugby is a full-contact team sport. The main element of gameplay is to score what’s known as a “try.” Players from two competing teams vie for control of an oval-shaped ball and pass it to their teammates, who then attempt to run with it past the opposing team’s defense and into one of the two “try zones” located at opposite ends of the field. 
“Rugby comes from soccer, and football comes from rugby, so it’s all interrelated, but the great thing about rugby is it’s the physicality of football with the nonstop action of soccer,” Gatzoulis said. “There’s an incredible amount of skill involved. It’s a pretty enthralling game to watch live and see how fast and competitive and fit these players are.”
The club currently has four programs: competitive men’s and competitive women’s, which both play in the second division of the New England Rugby Football Union; a U19 high school boys’ team called the Wolf Pack, and the Old Boys men’s 35+ team. 
“We call it a club, but that can be a misnomer because it’s not like a club with just the social aspect,” Gatzoulis said. “It’s definitely competitive for everyone.” 
The Amoskeag Rugby Club plays a style of rugby called union rugby, which involves teams of 15 players and games that run 80 minutes long, divided into two 40-minute halves. Practices started the first week of August, and the first game of the season is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27. The season continues through November, then breaks for winter. The teams return to practicing as soon as the snow melts to prepare for their last two games and the finals competitions in April.  
“When all is said and done, between the games and the pre-season practices and whatnot, we’re really playing eight months out of the year,” Gatzoulis said. 
The club will host eight competitive games this season at its official home field, Thibeault Field in Manchester. The teams compete against rugby clubs from Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York. 
Gatzoulis said the games attract anywhere from 100 to 200 spectators and that the club is always working to spread the word about upcoming games. The club’s schedule will be updated on the website so people can see when games are happening, and admission to all games is free.
“A lot of families come out to watch us. It’s a good way to get out of the house and do something different and exciting with family and friends,” Gatzoulis said. “We want as many people as possible to come check us out, so we encourage people to bring their own chairs, bring a sandwich and come enjoy a good day.” 

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