Student tried out rugby, turned into a team leader


    Hale Sloan is not a lifelong rugby player. Despite this, Sloan, senior in biological engineering, has enjoyed success. He was president of the K-State men’s Rugby Club when his team went 8-2 last season. Sloan has only been playing part of his time at K-State. He said his high school football experiences were the most relevant experience he had.
    “I just wanted to try something new,” Sloan said. “I was kind of disgruntled with football, and I’d seen rugby on TV and wondered what it was about.”
    He decided to pursue his curiosity. In spring 2005, he joined the club and has been playing ever since.
    “I like the tackling, and the athletic competition of all sports, so I thought, ‘Hey, why not?'” he said.
    The team consists of about 15-20 consistent players, with its total membership reaching as high as 50 players.
    “Club sports are unique in that there’s nothing that holds you there,” he said. “If you don’t want to come, you don’t have to.”
    As former president of the club and someone who enjoys the sport, Sloan stressed the inclusiveness of rugby and encouraged anyone interested to check it out.
    “Anyone can play,” he said. “If you’re small and fast, you can play. If you’re big and slow, but you’re strong, you can play.”
    The season is split into two halves, with collegiate games in the fall and the spring semesters.
    “We play about eight collegiate matches a year, four in the fall and four in the spring,” he said. “We play Big 12 teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Kansas.”
    According to its Web site, the club is officially known as the Kansas State/Ft. Riley Rugby Football Club, which extends membership beyond the K-State campus. The team plays other club teams in addition to its collegiate matches. In the club matches, soldiers from Fort Riley who are registered with USA Rugby can compete on the team.
    “We don’t get as many Fort Riley guys lately, with so many of them overseas,” said Tyler Hodges, junior in mechanical engineering and current president of the club. “They come and go and just enjoy the games whenever they can play.”   
    If the team does well enough, it can move on to the playoffs and ultimately win a championship. Funding for the club comes from dues of about $75 a semester and alumni fundraisers. The money pays for travel, insurance, and registration with USA Rugby, which regulates the league.
    “When we go and stay at a hotel for a longer trip, the club usually pays for that,” Hodges said. “We have a big alumni weekend, as well, which serves as our main fundraiser.”
    The team is coached by Danny Blea, who has served the club team on a volunteer basis since his graduation from K-State in 1986. He described Sloan as an asset to the team during his time at K-State.
    “Hale is a great kid and has been a great leader for this team,” Blea said. “He brings a lot of experience to the group.”
    Sloan said anyone interested in joining the team can either check out their Web site,, or just show up to winter conditioning, which is at 9 a.m. Monday through Wednesday at Ahearn Fieldhouse.