Rugby team fights for union spot
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"Do you want to win a rugby game?" Joseph Johnson screams at his Rugby team.
The team responds with a collective, "Yeah!"

They end the chant with the entire team screaming, "GO GATORS!"

The 15 SF State starting players take the field, donning purple-and-gold-striped jerseys, with a Mr. Pickles Sandwich shop sponsor across the front.

The Gators are not playing against another university, yet against a club team called the SF Fog.

SF State's rugby team, or Gator's Rugby Football Club, currently belongs to no division; they are essentially a club team playing other teams around the Bay Area.

In order for the team to get into the Northern California Rugby Football Union division they have to play every weekend with a full team, and have to get a unanimous vote in by all coaches in the division.

After meeting all the requirements thus far, with a current record of 16-2 this season, the team is expecting to be inducted into the Division II NCRFU.
The team was founded in 2005.

"This time last year we only had one win in five years," said forward Jack Turner. "We have sixteen wins just this school year. A lot of younger guys have really turned this team around."

The team has no formal coach.

Johnson is the forwards' captain, and Hiro Suzuki is the back captain. Johnson gained his rugby experience playing with club teams in San Louis Obispo and Arroyo Grande.
"We took over in August. We brought more intensity, and they ate it up," Johnson said. "A playing coach makes the sport that much better. We set the tone for the other guys."
Johnson is one of just three players on the team with any outside rugby experience, along with Suzuki and Lucien Moore.

"This is a team full of rookies," Johnson said. "They're gaining good experience from playing some great teams in the Bay Area."

The team plays their "home" games on Treasure Island.

In the most recent contest against the SF Fog on March 13, the Gators won by a convincing margin of 120 to 0.

"Rugby has a tradition of not letting up on an opponent. It is disrespectful if you do," Turner said. "The Fog is one of the men's teams in the Bay Area that helps us continue to play every weekend."

The sport is lacking recognition on campus, and due to some of the more high-profile sports getting the attention, rugby is not very known on the SF State campus.
"This is a great sport to watch, and we win," Lucien Moore said.

"Now that we're winning we want to fully represent the school and have SF State students come and watch the games," forward Nicolas McCurdy said.

The club has their next game against one of their toughest opponents at UC Santa Cruz, on March 20 at 1 p.m.

The club will also play on campus when they host their bitter rivals University of San Francisco on May 8 at Cox Stadium.



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