Friday, July 12, 2013
The word rugby usually centers around talk of the Augusta Maddogs Rugby Club, but there's another rugby squad in town that's earning its stripes.
This one, of the wheelchair variety.
The sport is quad rugby, and the players aren't messing around.
"The hits. That's what everybody wants to see," said player Jeremiah Butler.
Teammate Lonnie Burnett added, "That's what got me wanting to come out here. Just hitting."
For Burnett, the hitting starting a very long time ago. The 50-year-old has been playing the sport for more than 20 years, and he brought it to Augusta.
"When I went to the wheelchair games I saw the sport, and I tried it there," Burnett said. "That's when I came back and thought, hey, let's get some guys together."
Now, the team has taken off. Burnett took some time hand picking some of the squad's best players, Butler being one of those.
"He's a higher level," Burnett said. "He's a scorer. I'm like Dwyane Wade, and he's LeBron."
Rugby definitely wasn't Butler's first choice, though. He envisioned himself a basketball player, but his injury changed that.
"Most basketball players have good use of both of their hands and trunk," Butler said. "So, with my limited use of trunk and my hands, it makes me more suited for this sport."
With most of the players overcoming paralyzing injuries, quad rugby can take a bigger role than as just a sport.
Butler said, "I've met so many people that are in the same situation that you can kind of relate to. Being introduced to that through rugby helped out a lot."
Most players coming from active backgrounds, finding a sport that works definitely helps clear the mind. Then of course, there's always the hits.
In just five years, the quad rugby team has moved up two levels from Developmental to Division Two. By next year, they hope to be playing in Division One, which is the best competition you can get.