Thursday, June 20, 2013
The Augusta Rugby Club is celebrating 40 years of scrums in 2013, but the squad hasn't seen too many guys with the talent of Stephen Hickey.
One of the Maddogs' finest, Hickey can't get enough of the intensity of rugby.
He said, "The primitive nature of just protecting yourself, and you can just let everything hang out on that field. It's very raw."
For Hickey, rugby falls somewhere between hobby and profession. He doesn't do it for a living, but he wouldn't want to go without it. Of course, if it wasn't for his wife, his career as a rugger may have never happened.
"She was working 60 hours a week, and I was bored out of my mind, so she brough a flyer home and kicked me out of the house and told me to get my butt back out and do something physical and I fell in love with it. I've been doing it ever since."
That was in 2002, and Hickey's a little less bored these days.
Not only is rugby in his life, but he's the principal at Our Lady of Peace in North Augusta. And it turns out, he's even nice enough not to use the sport to keep his students on the straight and narrow.
"That's not the goal of my job, to intimidate the children," Hickey laughed. "I teach Algebra, and a lot of the kids in the class know I play. They inquire. They ask questions."
So why are the students rooting especially hard for Mr. Hickey these days?
He's not only playing for the Augusta Rugby Club, but he's also on the USA South Select squad, and the guy they call "Boomer" gives the credit to the group he shares the field with in Augusta.
"It had a huge effect and a huge impact on my ability to make that team. The network in Augusta is very deep. Any day of the week you can get a run with somebody."
While the Maddogs host their annual tournament Saturday, it's a much bigger prize he's after.
His USA South Select squad has spent the last few months storming through an international tournament, where they'll play the championship this weekend in Trinidad and Tobago.
"I already have butterflies. I woke up on Saturday, a week out. Usually Saturday starts game week for the following week, and I've had butterflies ever since. I can't wait to get on that plane, get down there, get my boots on and get a run with some of my teammates."
While Hickey's out of the country playing for his title, the Augusta Rugby Club will host their annual sevens tournament at North Augusta Middle School.
If you're interested in seeing what the game's about, you can see 23 teams fighting it out starting at 9:30 AM.