University of Nebraska-Lincoln club rugby team

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Club Rugby team practices inside Cook Pavilion on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Club Rugby at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has one of the most close-knit teams on campus, with an environment and attitude that creates a brotherhood amongst its members. This is especially important since many of the club’s members are playing rugby for the first time.  

This is the case for many freshmen, including William “Boomer” Calhoon.

“I didn’t even play sports in high school, but they [Club Rugby] had a table at the club sports fair and I got talking to one of the guys at the booth,” Calhoon said. “They said that I didn’t have to know anything about the sport, and that they’d teach me everything about rugby.”

Calhoon is utilized as an all-purpose player while the coaches try to find what position he will most thrive in.

“I’ve just grown to love the game, because it’s fast paced, has few stoppages, little to no restrictions and there’s a lot of guys on the field at once, so I get to play more,” Calhoon said.

Other freshmen brought prior playing experience to the club team, like freshman Brennen Palmer, who is a native of Littleton, Colorado. 

“This is my third year playing rugby, since I played during my junior and senior years of high school. I feel like I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about the sport, but I know I still have so much to learn,” Palmer said.

Another student playing rugby for the first time is freshman Will Beiermann. 

“It started as me just wanting to play sports in college and it evolved into something bigger. It’s such a weird game, but it builds up a team like a family,” Beiermann said. “There’s a whole national and international community around it, it’s like a brotherhood of sorts.”

Calhoon echoed those feelings. 

“I just love the culture, no matter what everyone plays and everyone can make a difference. I’m just glad for the tight group of brothers rugby has given,” he said.

The rugby team practices twice per week and on average has 25 players on the roster from week to week. This season the team is 2-3, with their most recent game being a 34-25 loss at Kansas State on Oct. 26. 

“We decided to change up our offense before Kansas State, to make it more complex and deceptive, make it more challenging for the defense to stop,” Palmer said. “We have more option play with the forwards, change up the angles and have our backline more intermixed in attacking play.”

“Over the course of the season, I’m looking to improve and be the best player for my teammates and coaches,” said Beiermann. 

The final two games of the season for the team are both away games against Truman State and Iowa State. 

“We have been going through a bit of a dry spell and we are looking to turn things around to end the season on a positive note,” Calhoon said.