You may not know this, but the University of Maine rugby team was “dirty” last season. Going undefeated in the regular season and finishing 10th in the nation, out of 250 teams, put UMaine rugby on the map. Rugby player Johnny Jagger, or the team’s loose head prop — I have no idea what that position is either — breaks down what it meant to be a part of one of UMaine’s most successful teams.
“We all worked together this year and had really good chemistry,” Jagger said. “In the end, we crushed teams.”
Jagger began playing Rugby when he first came to UMaine and was left without an activity. A wrestler in high school, rugby seemed like a good fit for Jagger to pick up. In his junior season, things just seemed to click.
“You need everybody working together. Offense is the defense, everyone needs to be on the same page. If one guy messes up, they [the opposing team] are going to score. Since you can only lateral [pass the ball sideways or backwards], you must be able to keep the right distance when running the diagonal line,” Jagger said. “In terms of people getting along, we were lucky.”
The highlight for Jagger came when the rugby team hosted a home playoff game under the lights at Alfond Stadium in front of some rowdy Black Bears. UMaine won 26-5 against Nichols College.
“That was the first time playing at UMaine and having a home playoff game. A great crowd came out, got real rowdy, and it felt good to represent UMaine in such a dominating fashion,” Jagger said. “It was one of the most fun times I’ve had.”
Jagger will still be a part of the team next season and is no stranger to the weight room. Rugby players must focus on compound lifts to incorporate the larger muscle groups, such as legs and back. The show muscles aren’t what matter, but Jagger says he likes to do a little extra.
“It comes down to core lifts, but endurance is what is really overlooked,” Jagger said. “It’s unlike football, where you have a play and then it stops. In rugby there are 40-minute halves, and it never stops.”
The rugby team will resume play in the spring, and they will look to build on their recent success. If you get a chance, don’t hesitate to check out the action.