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Rugby: Tourney features faster version of sport

Profile image for By Patrick Hayslip / Staff Writer
By Patrick Hayslip / Staff Writer

The Denton Rugby Football Club is hosting the Grand Poobah 7s men’s and women’s tournament from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the North Lakes Park soccer complex.

The tournament will feature seven-player lineups as opposed to the traditional 15-player format, and club president Ben Outland thinks this year’s tournament has much to offer.

“Being at North Lakes, there is stuff for the kids,” Outland said. “They are going to enjoy the atmosphere of it, and people are going to recognize the scrum and they will recognize the kicking game. This is our fourth year doing this tournament, and it’s pretty exciting to see how far it has come. We’re getting teams from out of state, we’re getting women’s teams and we’re getting young teams.”

Some proceeds from the tournament will benefit cancer research in honor of Paulie “Grand Poobah” Biddiscombe.

The DRFC competes in a 15-man league with games lasting 80 minutes, but seven-man games are condensed into 12 minutes, leading to a high-octane experience for players and fans.

“The cool thing about sevens is fast pays,” Outland said. “It’s faster players with more scoring with a lot more finesse play. With sevens, you find more lean guys as opposed to heavy guys that play in 15s.”

Some high school football coaches suggest rugby to their players as a way to stay in shape, but Outland thinks more people are becoming interested in rugby for other reasons.

“The thing that sticks out for most people is that there is tackling but without pads,” Outland said. “Parents like it because you don’t tackle above the shoulders. You’re not going to hit your head, because you don’t lead with the head. A lot of high school coaches encourage their kids to play rugby because it’s a great way to learn how to tackle correctly.”

Denton Rugby has enlisted the help of longtime North Texas rugby coach Art Anderson, and coupled with the wealth of football talent around Denton, Outland is optimistic about the growth of rugby and the development of local athletes.

“Rugby is on its way to be an Olympic sport,” Outland said. “I think with the talent here we could eventually produce an Olympic athlete. The great thing is that Denton has so much talent, and hopefully we could cultivate that talent. What’s great about our roster last year is we got about 12 new guys.

“The cool thing is that Denton has some really fantastic football teams and they have talent that can carry over into our sport. UNT has had a lot of success, and that’s something Denton should be proud of. We have a lot of people working hard to put this town on the map when it comes to rugby.”

The women’s Denton Rugby Club is back for its first tournament since it was re-established in February after a four-year layoff.

As for how the DRFC will perform in the tournament, Outland is confident.

“Art is making sure these guys are ready and we think we have a great shot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we came home with our own trophy,” Outland said.

PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is