For Hogan, his history with rugby stems from a family connection. “My dad played with the Springfield team in the 80s. He also played a little bit with Worcester and Hartford, so I grew up around the game,” said Hogan. When he was in high school, Hogan shared that he played for the Under-19 team before going to college. He rejoined the team in 2012 after graduating and eventually became the cub president in the Fall of 2019, according to Hogan.
According to Club President Shane Hogan, the rugby club was formed in 1969 at a time where rugby was considered a niche sport. He said that the Rifles remain one of the oldest clubs in the area, recently celebrating their 50-year anniversary.
Along with the club’s other executive members, Hogan works to organize the team for the fall and spring seasons. For the fall, USA Rugby and the New England Rugby Football Union formulate a schedule for teams located across four local divisions, according to Hogan. In the spring, he said the club creates their own schedule, which includes games outside of their division, college scrimmages and tournaments across the nation.
The Rifles also embrace inclusivity when forming their roster, according to Hogan. In addition to opening their arms to new players year-round, the co-ed roster includes people from all walks of life. “We have people all over the country and all over the world,” said Hogan. He shared that the roster includes people from domestic states like Texas to international countries like England. The inclusivity is not limited to just players, as Hogan explained that family and friends of the team are made a part of the welcoming environment.
Hogan shared that the club works diligently to create a communal spirit on and off the pitch. “There’s a lot of mutual respect between teammates and opponents,” said Hogan. After every match, he explained that both teams gather at the sponsored restaurant to break bread and leave any animosity from the match behind them.
As the Rifles season gets underway, the team has already celebrated their first win with a 55-5 victory over the Cape Cod Cutthroats on Aug 28. While winning is always a central goal in sports, Hogan said that building a strong comradery holds equal significance. “[It] doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, big or small…we all come together to find our niche,” said Hogan.
Readers can learn more about joining the Rifles or attending matches at their website http://springfieldrugbyclub.com/ and their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/springfield.rifles/.