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Rugby Finds A Home In KELOLAND

May 16, 2008, 4:19 PM by Tony Burns

Rugby Finds A Home In KELOLAND
Rugby is quickly becoming one of the world's most popular sports. And thanks to a group of local enthusiasts, its found another home right here in KELOLAND. 

It's a lot like football, just without the pads. And for the Sioux Falls High School Rugby Club, the sport is truly about showing just how tough you really are.

Head coach Gene Nelson says, "I think that most of the people that come to play rugby, they like the contact sports. You're up front, you're physical. It is a physically demanding sport, you got to have strength and endurance in this game." 

"What's more fun than tackling someone without pads? It's a real test to see how manly you are, not to be all macho," adds Jordan Mertes. "It shows whether if you have it or not, to play with the big boys." 

The unique thing about this team is its pool of talent. The team draws players from all around the area, including all the Sioux Falls high schools. But once they're on the field, prep status is not an issue.

Mertes says, "I think it's easing the rivalry between the schools. We're all rugby buddies. People envy us because we go to different schools." 

"Once they're out there realizing they're playing on the same team, and just how much fun they're having playing rugby," says Nelson. "By the end of the year it improves the rivalries because they know each other more intimately." 

As a whole, rugby in the United States has struggled. But thanks to a decade of success in Sioux Falls, Nelson says that's a fact that could change in the future. 

"It is growing, it's just that it's a slow type of growth," admits Nelson. "Certainly, we'd love to have more players all the time. With so many options out there, you just got to come give it a try. And if you like it you'll stick with it, believe me it's a great sport." 

Sioux Falls United will be the top seed for this weekend's Great Plains Youth Rugby Association Tournament, in Omaha.

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