Philly college teams demonstrate 'Rugby 101' on Battleship New Jersey

Annual Collegiate Rugby Championships run June 1-3 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester.

David Madden
May 22, 2018 - 2:05 pm
Drexel women's rugby players demonstrate the sport at the Battleship New Jersey in advance of the 2018 Collegiate Rugby Championships.

Dave Madden-KYW Newsradio

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CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) —  Visitors to the Battleship New Jersey in Camden on Monday got an extra experience with their tour of the iconic vessel when rugby players put on a show to promote a national championship in the Philadelphia area next month. 

Local college athletes put on a clinic for passersby in advance of the annual Collegiate Rugby Championships, June 1 - 3, at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester. 

For the uninitiated, Drexel women's team member Lana Granow, a nursing major, suggests you think of a combination of football and soccer. Then you'll get it.

"You get to run in any direction. You only pass backwards. And the idea is that it's the continuity and consistency of soccer," she said. "It's never stopping, but you get to hit like you do football."

Temple and Drexel women's rugby players demonstrate the sport at the Battleship New Jersey in advance of the 2018 Collegiate Rugby Championships.
Dave Madden-KYW Newsradio

Temple and St. Joseph University also have men's teams in the competition. 

Tickets are for sale for the Chester competition. It'll be broadcast nationally on ESPN, a clear sign the sport is growing in popularity in this country

Dan Yarusso, who coaches the men's team at St. Joe's, points to his own family as partial proof of the growth of American rugby. 

"I have my daughter with me and my son, and they're playing flag rugby already. So you see, it's growing in that regard," Yarusso said. "And on the other side, you see the universities saying, 'Wow. This rugby thing's really taking off.' So they're starting to adopt their rugby programs as more of a varsity program at the universities."

There are even efforts to form a professional rugby league in America.