The Harding rugby team is looking for change this year. Having lost their game field to the new softball stadium, the rugby team was unable to host home games during the 2013-2014 season. The team is set to play on a new home field located past the flag football fields.
Since its conception, the team has been led and coached entirely by players. While the most experienced player would serve as a player-coach, other experienced players would serve as officers and captains.
“Anyone who had experience gave me pointers on the side constantly, which helped me develop into a better player,” senior James Morgan said. “There was a lot of cooperation.”
The team operated this way until last year, when former player Hayden Dorsett took the reigns as coach.
“I saw how it changed from a group of people choosing to follow one person to feeling like they had to,” Morgan says. “Anytime a teammate ends up being the ultimate authority, it is particularly difficult for those who played with him.”
According to Junior Jacob Baldwin, the change was noticeable in games, as well.
“It was different because he wasn’t on the field yelling at us,” Baldwin said. “He was on the sideline kind of trying to direct us, but when you’re on the field, you don’t really notice anyone that’s on the sideline.”
The tension was noticeable to new players.
“When you have this laid back attitude, and then you switch to being so organized, just doing drills and that sort of thing, it’s hard to stay focused,” sophomore Spenser McGuiggan said.
The team’s performance last year reflected the change, as they failed to secure the division’s No. 1 seed for the first time since competing as an official team with the USA Rugby organization.
Considering his new role as team president, Baldwin desires to return to the collaborative approach that the team has taken in the past.
“I’m willing to take any advice anyone has to offer. If it’s genuinely going to help us, I’m willing to let anyone teach us any drill or show us any kind of style,” Baldwin said. “I feel the team is more open to players to show what they’ve got and help us grow as a team.”
Having decided to quit playing rugby after last season in order to focus on academics and theatre, Morgan said he is excited to see the team develop this year.
“I think the team is moving in a good direction,” he said. “They are all great guys and hard workers.”