Hoos Up For Some Rugby?

Worthy Chaplain Dan Schmehl (’15)

Rugby players are stereotypically viewed as brutes who enjoy drinking and womanizing after turning their opponents to mush. That may apply to those guys at Virginia Tech, but I’m more of an “imbibing” and “philandering” kind of guy — much classier…
I’m one of the men on the UVA Rugby Team, and I’m also an ATΩ Delta Brother. It’s difficult to balance my time between being on the Executive Board of the fraternity, playing and practicing with the team, and keeping up with my singing group, all while keeping my grades competitive, but I enjoy keeping myself busy. These activities complement each other well, and they helped me get acclimated to The University my first year because of the number of people I got to know in such a short time. Although I spend ridiculous amounts of time on extracurriculars and keeping up with schoolwork, I still make sure to put aside plenty of time to hang out with my best friends at the ATΩ house.
The story of how I got involved with rugby in the first place is an interesting one. I had set my heart on trying out for the Ultimate Frisbee Team as a way to keep in shape, but like a typical First Year, I showed up to the wrong field and, consequently, to practice for the wrong sport.
“Boy, those sure are some round Frisbees,” I remember sarcastically saying to my friend as we neared the team and watched them play. A big guy with a red beard came up to us and asked, “you guys lost?”
My friend spoke up, “Nah man, we’re right where we need to be. What sport is this again?” “This here is rugby,” the big guy boomed. I picked a spot in line and proceeded to make myself look like an idiot for a few weeks until I got the gist of the game. I continued to go to practice and play, and I’m now starting in my second year. The position I play is called the Hooker. It may not sound tough, but I’m the guy at the front tip of the scrum, a set piece play similar to the offensive and defensive line in football. The difference is, for the scrum, the forwards (Big Boys, sometimes upwards of 300 pounds) must lock together and all push against the other team’s forwards. So I’m the guy who bears the most weight and keeps that 1,500-pound mass of muscle from falling over and hurting someone, all while trying to take the ball from the other team. I may be the butt of a few jokes, but I take it in stride. My Brothers show up every once in a while to watch even though they have no clue what the rules are. That doesn’t stop them from yelling, “Bull s**t ref! What are you, blind?!” when calls don’t go our way. I appreciate their enthusiasm, but I just tell them to cheer when everyone else cheers.
Although I found the rugby team first, ATΩ has become my home away from home, and my Brothers have become like a second, moderately dysfunctional family. We pick each other up when we’re down, celebrate each other’s achievements as if they were our own, and most of all we are there to help when someone’s in need. It may be clichéd, but I seriously feel as though ATΩ Delta has given me something that other fraternities claim to give you, but often do not — mutual love and respect.