By Spc. Justin Naylor, 2nd BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.May 26, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas-As far as sports go, some rank fairly low among Americans in terms of familiarity.
And while some sports, like NASCAR, are generally recognized as rapidly rising in popularity, some others in the margins are also gaining a mild groundswell of popular interest.
For some 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers, their participation on Fort Hood's Phantom Warrior Rugby Football Club has been a learning experience.
The team is made up of roughly 40 individuals from various units around Fort Hood, with the bulk of players being from 1st Cav. Div.
The Phantom Warrior team plays union rugby, as opposed to league, with two teams of 15 players competing for two 40 minute halves. Like football, rugby players must run or kick an oval ball through an "H" shaped goal to score points. A try, or goal, earns the team five points, with a two point conversion kick after the try. Unlike American football, it is illegal to pass the ball forward. Over time, modifications to the rules emphasized making the game faster, demanding a higher level of fitness among the competitors, by emphasizing the try over the kick.
The team has been playing for approximately four months and practices twice a week, according to 2nd Lt. Dan Schmidt, a Washington, D.C. native with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
As rugby becomes steadily more popular in the U.S., more Soldiers have become interested in playing, he explained. Roughly half of this particular team is new to the sport.
The sport is easy to learn if you've played football, according to 1st Lt. Jonathan Swartz, a San Antonio native with 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. It's a lot less expensive though; all you need is a ball, cleats, shorts and somewhere to play.
"Everybody is welcome to come," said Swartz.
This is a chance for Soldiers to get out, relieve stress, build friendships and get a good workout, explained 2nd Lt. Andrew Hansen, a Bountiful, Utah native also with 2nd BCT.
The Phantom Warriors typically play against college and city teams from around the central Texas area, but earlier this month competed in an Army rugby tournament at Fort Benning, Ga., and was one of the top four finalists at the event.
The team is eagerly recruiting more players and hopes to soon have enough for a second team.
"We are looking for all shapes and sizes," said Heffren. "Fitness level is about the only thing that matters when joining."
Heffren did have a warning, though.
"Once you play a game, you're hooked!"
So, if the terms "scrum," "blood bin" and "maul" don't scare you off, contact Schmidt at 301-503-5700 to play rugby or even join the Phantom Warrior team.