“The way to learn rugby is to just go out and do it,” says Kevin Combes. “Learn from your mistakes.” The president of Washington Scandals Rugby Football Club, Combes thinks “ideally, everyone should want to come out and play rugby. We’ve been really focused on being super-inclusive, not just in terms of sexuality, but body type, athletic ability, race, different levels of masculinity.”
Michael Arnone, the Scandals recruiting chair, says that playing rugby might seem intimidating at first, but practices are arranged to walk newcomers through its finer points. The team also holds a “Rugby 101” session twice a year, a part-interactive clinic, part-informational session next held on Sunday, Aug. 5.
“We try to introduce people to the sport in a low-stress, very casual setting,” says Arnone. Adds Combes, “You don’t have to worry about getting injured — we’re not going to put you into a tackle until we’ve taught you how to do it safely.”
Because the team doesn’t have a set season, newcomers can join at any time, and are encouraged to show up at the team’s weekly practices on Tuesday or Thursday. A full membership is about $240 per year, but the team generally doesn’t ask people to pay until they have played a few games and decided it’s right for them. Then there’s the social aspect to consider.
“If you’re thinking about joining rugby, you should be someone who’s looking to have fun and make really strong friendships,” says Combes. “The team is absolutely like a family. My teammates are some of my best friends, they’re almost my entire life in D.C. It’s not an activity you just go to three times a week. It’s gonna be your core group of friends.”
The Washington Scandals Rugby Football Club’s “Rugby 101” is Sunday, Aug. 5, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Harry Thomas Recreation Center Fields, 1743 Lincoln Rd. NE. A “Third Half” social event will occur immediately afterward from 4 to 8 p.m. at Uproar, 639 Florida Ave. NW. Weekly practices are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. at Thomas Recreation Center. For more information, visit scandalsrfc.org.