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Early look at Memphis Rugby return

The Memphis Rugby team has started to organize their return to competition after a year of being dormant. 

Several things are still in the making, but the team will be scheduled to compete this spring. The Rugby Club leaders and staff members have begun the finalization of their schedule. Team captain Ethan Scott said the best part about getting back on the field is what it does for the team's community and physical development. 

"For some of us, rugby is an outlet for athletic expression," Scott said. "For others it's a social game, but we're all in agreement that getting fit and strong with a good group of guys makes life better."

The Memphis Rugby team has found ways to practice on their own time for the majority of the last year. Recently, the team was able to return to in-person workouts and team practice when the semester started and campus reopened. Scott said the organization is churning out a stellar team this season. 

"This is the most talented and committed Tiger Rugby team I've ever seen," Scott said. "We have strong players and great leadership from our coaches and student leaders, and I think every match this year will be a show."

The team has scheduled matches against a pair of division II teams from Mississippi. Both of those games are set for Mar. 13. They then have a neutral site game against the Tennessee Volunteers in Nashville Apr. 10. The Tigers have an away game in Rolla, Missouri, against Missouri S&T that is set for Apr. 24.

There are possible games that are still being considered with other programs. Games against LSU and Alabama are being negotiated. No official word has been given on other teams or dates yet. 

The Tigers went undefeated in the SCRC DII side the last time they played a full season. Memphis has competed against UTK and has not been victorious in the last three games. 

The team has definite new leader at the helm, coach Blake White. White coached at an often-ranked, juggernaut school Arkansas State previously. White has held the position since last year and will represent the team in upcoming competition. White said he had definite expectations for the approaching competition. 

"I expect us to do everything to the best of our ability and to represent our program with pride," White said.

The team was not able to schedule any conference matches or official scrimmages since March of 2020. Last semester, the team had the decision to discuss competing in the fall. They chose not to after the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference pushed the fall season to the spring. 

Several changes have happened since the long competition drought and it did not keep the team held back. White said there were some difficulties and it is good to have matches.

"We’re creating a new culture around Memphis Tiger Rugby and that has had some growing pains," White said. "I know we will continue to do so but the team and assistant coaches are really taking things in stride and taking on the new challenges with a grit we want."

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