Rugby on the rise at Ryerson

Rugby loving Rams could have a team to play for this spring, thanks to the work of a man named Neo. Norm Cheung

Rugby-loving Rams could have a team to play for this spring, thanks to the work of Neo Mudzingwa.
(courtesy Norm Cheung)

By: Alex Tsui

A rugby club may soon be coming to Ryerson, thanks to the efforts of Neo Mudzingwa, a third-year student who has spent the past two years generating interest in the sport.

The club will likely be official by this spring. It will be recreational and open to all members of the Ryerson community, and all skill levels.

Mudzingwa first started playing rugby in high school and continued to play for the Balmy Beach Club and Fort McMurray Knights. When he came to Ryerson, however, there was no club to join.

“I wanted to play at a competitive level for school and university but there were no clubs at Ryerson,” Mudzingwa said. “It looked like no one was going to start one, so I did it myself.”

Rugby at Ryerson struggled to establish itself as a competitive club for a number of years. Another student attempted to start a team in 2006, but after failing to work together with the University of Toronto the team lost support, and ceased to exist by 2010.

Ryerson rugby faces the same challenge that it faced in 2010: the team doesn’t have a field to play on. Renting a field or using a field at another university means dealing with insurance and liability issues, said Nick Asquini, the varsity operations co-ordinator in the athletics department.

In 2011 Mudzingwa attempted to start a rugby team, but couldn’t recruit enough people. For lack of a better option, he started playing intramural rugby at the University of Toronto for the New College and Engineering teams.

Mudzwinga was more successful in bringing out Ryerson students to play touch rugby in 2012, after advertising the informal club around campus with posters. They played their games on the field in the Quad.

Mudzwinga has enough members to get approval to start the club, and almost 80 people following the Ryerson Rugby Facebook group. But other players say they want to see more campus-wide interest in the sport.

“More people need to come out and stop standing on the sidelines,” said Tharindra De Silva, a second-year business management student who played for the competitive provincial and national teams.
“They need to show support by coming out to play touch (rugby) and help build the team,” De Silva said.

Mudzingwa said he plans for the club to run intramural games, gain more support, and become competitive.

“We want the club to be official so that it will appear on the school website and that way we can get more attention.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on February 12, 2014.

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