By (Tommy DiCostanzo)

The University of Alabama’s oldest club sports team, men’s rugby, begins another fall season looking to replicate their recent series of victories. The coaches and veterans of the club are busy preparing a new wave of freshman players to replace departed seniors who led the runs to a 2016 Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference (SCRC) championship and a 2015 second place finish.

The team has established a winning tradition over the past five years that is unmatched by any other run of success since the club’s founding in 1973.

While head coach Eddie Buckner is currently coaching a team at the next level in New Zealand, Danny Depperschmidt, a graduate student studying engineering, serves as interim head coach. Depperschmidt brings five years of experience playing for the club as well as the past three years coaching the team.

Depperschmidt attributes the past few seasons of success to the camaraderie developed within the team.

“The beauty of the club is that it has grown into a tight-knit family. Definitely one of the closest organizations I’ve been a part of,” Depperschmidt said. “Rugby is a tough sport, teammates get pretty close when they are giving their blood, sweat, and tears for each other.”

To help instill this brotherly culture, Danny is joined on the coaching staff by his own brother and 2016 SCRC player of the year Ross Depperschmidt as well as other graduated players who have stuck around to help.

While some of the team – like club president, Andrew Kallas – join the club with some experience playing rugby, the majority of new players have never played before, like Depperschmidt who made the transition from playing high school football. Kallas, a junior mechanical engineering student, is optimistic about the newest players on the team.

“We have big shoes to fill, but I think our new players are up to the challenge,” Kallas said.

Club rugby is unique in that it has a season in the fall and spring. During the fall, the team plays fifteens, which is the traditional form of the sport featuring fifteen players on the field for each team. During the spring, the team plays 7’s, which is a faster paced, more wide open style of the game played in the Olympics which features, you guessed it: seven players per team.

The Crimson Tide begin their fifteens season on Saturday, September 16th when they travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators. Before facing the Gators, the team will battle each other on September 9th in the annual “Crimson v. White match.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports