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Spotlight: SOAS Men’s Rugby

Breaking down stereotypes and building a tight-knit team, rugby at SOAS is not like anywhere else!

When thinking about rugby it is easy to assume that those that play the sport are “lads” in every sense of the word. They play an aggressive sport, they drink, they seemingly perpetuate “lad culture”. And this may be true of rugby at other universities, but there is something different about Rugby here at SOAS.

When speaking to the President of SOAS Rugby, Toby Taplin, he explained the types of socials that they had lined up, ranging from quizzes to dinners out which will include not only the SOAS team but often the opposing teams too. They are also getting ready for Movember, a popular charity movement in the UK.

 “The best thing about SOAS Rugby is the team spirit.”

Beyond socialising, SOAS Rugby is also unique for its training. Complete beginners, as well as those who may have played for years, are welcome to join the team. This works so well because of their new coach who is dedicated to creating a space where those who wish to learn and improve can do so. It is entirely a “challenge by choice” environment, meaning that there are no compulsory gym sessions or ridiculous training hours that other universities are known to enforce. This means that, with SOAS Rugby, players can improve whilst they have fun, without feeling any unnecessary pressure.

When asked what the best things about playing Rugby for SOAS are, Toby, the President, didn’t hesitate in his response. The best thing about SOAS Rugby is the team spirit. Whilst slightly cliché, it is clear to see that this is true. There are no clear hierarchies between those on the committee, those who have played for the team for a few years, and those who are complete beginners, everyone is welcomed into a tight-knit community where all of that doesn’t really matter. On the pitch, they lose with grace and win with humility. But, the main point that Toby emphasised was that SOAS Rugby is a team in every sense of the word, whilst playing and whilst socialising. They are, quite simply, a bunch of guys who are keen to play a fun sport without the stereotypical lad culture issues that other university teams have to face.

2017/18 SOAS Men’s Rugby Team after a match last academic year. Credit: Toby Taplin.

Some things to look forward to from Rugby this term:

With a win against Imperial in their first match of the season, SOAS Rugby is off to a promising start as they hope to secure more wins in their matches to come. If you would like to go along and support them keep an eye out on their Facebook page for more information closer to the time. They have a match almost every Wednesday afternoon this term so please do show them your support!

And lastly, you can join Rugby at any time so if you would like to try out a session their training times are 2pm to 4pm at Regents Park on Wednesdays and Sundays. Make sure to check out their Facebook pages for updates, just search for SOAS Men’s Rugby 2018-19.

Holly Sampson, BA Middle Eastern Studies and World Philosophies


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