Easy on Rudy

The newspaper of record plays softball with the schools chief.

Last year the team was bumped up from Division 2. Its members — which include a real estate lawyer, a French chef, and a computer software programmer — haven't been this good since the late Nineties.

Not that people in Miami care. The team's 8-2 record received little notice in a town that doesn't know a scrum from gutter scum. "People think rugby players are a bunch of fat, drunk guys using rugby as an excuse to be fat and drunk," says Dougie Neary, a short but built medical technology expert. "But we're not a bunch of knuckleheads."

The team is pretty informal. If you can hang at practice, you play. The guys, who range in age from 18 to 48, pay their way to tournaments and practice on a shabby soccer field at the German American Social Club.

On the field, at last week's practice, the sound of McDonough yelling "Let's go, ladies!" wasn't much louder than noise issuing from the neighboring farm (Was that a chicken clucking?). And every 15 minutes or so, a new player would limp to the sidelines. "Bones heal," says Neary. "Pride is forever."

In Saturday's game at Gaelic Park in Oak Forest, the weather was warm and sunny. The fans were pumped, but the game wasn't pretty. Chicago found holes in Miami's defense right away. "The only good thing was the coin toss," Neary says. "I think we lost that too."

The defeat left the players with bruised egos, but Neary still calls the season "a rebirth." When practice began in October, only 14 guys showed up — one shy of a full squad. This spring, the team has had as many as 40 athletes dressed and ready. On Saturday, there were 22.

Now Miami Rugby plans to get sponsors and recruit younger players for next year. But before that comes a trip to the bar. Being in the crapper, after all, has an upside: You get to drink.


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