MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Summertime sports often center around baseball, tennis, golf, and soccer.
But at a Twin Cities park, it’s always rugby season.
“Everybody gets to touch the ball, tackle, play various positions…you just get hooked,” said Jamey Kohlbeck of the Metropolis Rugby Football Club.
Rugby is a sport that plays a bit like soccer, but with the physicality of football.
“No pads. I don’t necessarily like hurting people, but I do enjoy hitting people and the rough physicality of the sport,” said Simeon Tschumper, a player.
It’s a sentiment that’s been a part of the Metropolis Rugby for 25 years.
But clubs have been around the Twin Cities since the 1960s. And now there’s a bit of a youth movement.
In fact, numbers are actually growing for both kids and adults.
“My son is 8. He’s into it. He plays rugby better than he does football,” Kohlbec said.
For Team Metropolis, Rugby is the sport that the brings the world together.
There are 50 active players on the team and many of them come from countries where rugby is king.
“In my 7’s team currently, on the starting side, we have three people from Fiji, one from Australia, and there are two guys from the states,” Tschumper said.
Ekapateli Sio grew up on the island country of Tonga, where his dad, uncles and pretty much everyone else played rugby.
“Every day after work or after school, the community or the youth at the village come together at the park like this and play around. That’s show it all started,” Sio said.
It’s why Sio feels right at home at Columbia Park in Minneapolis on a steamy June night.
“Once you are 35 and older, you are considered an old boy in rugby. It’s term of endearment,” Kohlbeck said.
Practice is one thing, scoring is another.
A try is like a touchdown in football, but instead of spiking the ball in the end zone you neatly place it over the try zone.
“If you kick for a conversion, that’s worth 3 points,” Tschumper said.
A conversion is sort of like a field goal in football.
Metropolis plays games across the country. Youth players start out playing flag rugby, which is similar to flag football.
On the team, there are former wrestlers, football players and then there are those that never really played a sport but love rugby.
The goal is like a life lesson — to work as a team with people from all walks of life.
“It’s very good for team sports,” Tschumper said. “It’s very good for getting kids out there and working with other children of their same age. It’s a good sport overall.”
Metropolis practices on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Columbia Park in Minneapolis.