In the midst of colligate and professional football season being in full swing, many Americans might not know that the Rugby World Cup is currently being held in Japan. With a fanbase of 450 million worldwide, rugby has become an international sport, and we don’t have to look far to find its influence in our Baylor family.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Luke Davis, a Baylor senior and president of Baylor Club Rugby, to have a conversation about this unique community and how it has impacted his time at Baylor.
Luke joined the rugby team his freshman year. He laughed telling me he remembered he believed he would be too small to join the team, but got the chance to sit down with an older member who convinced him to give it a try. Now, three years later, he’s the president of the organization.
“Rugby is one of those sports that bonds you naturally,” Luke said. “I remember my freshman year, coming to Waco, Texas, from Portland was kind of a shock… I didn’t really have a solid group of guys until I started going to rugby practice. It’s just continued to be a really awesome community. Being with these guys has been such a big part of my college experience. You feel like you’re brothers.”
No prior experience is required to join Baylor Rugby. The older members of the team work hard to teach the newcomers the sport alongside their coaches — Waco community members who volunteer their time to coach the team.
“Rugby can be a technical game. Sometimes the rules are hard to understand. But it’s really not unheard of for Freshman to be a part of the rotation within their first semester,” Luke said.
Baylor Rugby is a travelling club team, playing teams from all around the area as part of the Red River Rugby Conference, whose members include familiar opponents like the University of Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech, as well as Texas A&M, North Texas, and even LSU. Luke said that on occasion, they’ve even played as far away as Arkansas.
“Those are awesome experiences to build community. We always go down and back in the same day. When you’re going to Arkansas, Tech Texas, or LSU, those are long days. Seven or eight hours there or back on the same bus. It’s a really big bonding experience,” Luke said.
Finally, Luke spoke to how the rugby team has been a part of his faith over his time at Baylor. Luke, while the president, is also the team Chaplain. From weekly Bible studies to being on the field, “It’s been possibly the most important thing that’s pushed me to grow in my faith… In the competitive times, that’s when you’re really pushed to lean into your faith. We’re in that vulnerable place together. We’re always pushing each other at practice and at Bible study to encourage each other to ask, ‘what’s the most effective way to share the Gospel with our teammates, and the entire Baylor community?’”
Luke and the entire Baylor Rugby Club have found a fantastic community during their time at Baylor, and continue to gear up for conference play starting soon, with their first game against LSU on November 2nd.