Virginia Tech men’s rugby isn’t for the faint of heart.
Their practices are intense. Their coach is a former British Army soldier. Players fight through rigorous training exercises just to get ready for game day.
All of that has forged a strong bond between the coach, players and fans that spans generations. For a program that dates back to 1891, rugby is a way of life for many.
This is what Tech men’s rugby is all about.
Andy Richards has been the head coach of men’s rugby club team since December 2009. Richards played rugby his entire life — on military teams while serving in the British army for 23 years — instilling in him the right kind of character needed to lead the Tech rugby team to success.
The players couldn’t agree more that they have the right man at the helm.
“Coach pushes us for sure,” said Junior Kevin Hurley, a team officer. “He’s a hard-nosed, ex-army guy from England, so he doesn’t mess around, but we know he has our best interests at heart, that’s for sure.
“He brings a football mentality too, which is what you have to do,” Hurley said. “He tells us up front that this is going to be tough, and you might not like it, but you have to do it if you want to be good. We trust him and know that with him coaching and us putting in the hard work, we’ll get it done.”
This intangible contract between coach and player is one of the driving forces behind the program’s success and ensures everyone who shows up does so with the best interests of the team in mind.
One of the strongest assets the rugby team possesses is the commitment found among its members. Richards and the players don’t take training lightly.
“These kids all know what’s expected of them,” Richards said. “They live and breathe the sport. They work out six days a week.”
Week to week, the rugby team tackles a vigorous training regimen, which takes place on the field and in the gym. The team has even hired a fitness instructor to take its aerobic workouts to another level.
With all their hard work and dedication, coach and players alike take exception to the adage, “It’s just a club sport.”
“It’s not just a club sport,” Richards said. “We train just as hard as some of the varsity sports. It’s a big commitment; you shouldn’t come out lightly, and you have to be fit.”
Many of the players say they love the toughness of their training — a practice that binds the team together.
“We’ve been through some of the worst sessions where you are just suffering through it together,” Hurley said. “And you gain a mutual respect for each other.”