Rugby Takes Foot in Millard

Wait… Millard has a Rugby Team.

Vincent Towne, Staff Writer

Last season’s 7s team.

There are many sports at west, but one stands out from the rest. Rugby.

There aren’t many Americans that can say they actually know how rugby works. A common misconception about rugby is that it’s like football without pads. Believe me, it is nothing of the sort. The rules of the game are fairly simple to learn, but they can be hard for someone that’s played football their whole life. The ball can only be passed backward, there is no blocking, and when someone scores it’s called a try, not a touchdown.

A few years ago a Millard West Engineering teacher, Scott Bohlken, decided to start his own rugby team. Bohlken said “I got the idea to start one after my son, Jagger, went to Wayne State (College) to play.” Bohlken would ask students in his Engineering classes if they wanted to try a new sport and check out rugby. Once he got enough people to join, West Omaha Rugby was born. Just one out of almost 3,000 teams in the U.S.

The teams entered into two different seasons, “7 man” and “15 man.” They are vastly different. Sevens is in the fall and is very fast paced with less tackles and higher scoring matches. Fifteens is in the spring and has a lot more people smashing in to each other than 7s. Year after year they won the regional championship for 15s and sometimes 7s.

The team started to gain players, and have 30-40 players every season. After these new players began to make a name for the program, Bohlken wanted to make the sport school affiliated, since most players went to a Millard school. At the beginning of last school year in late 2016, he decided to hand all of his players forms to get people to sign and make rugby a Millard sport. His petition succeeded, and so they changed their name to Millard United Rugby.

Thor Henka, a Millard United player, says that “the sport is just awesome, and it gives you a chance to hit people without pads.” Isaiah Rachow says “rugby offers more playing time than football, and it lets the big boys actually carry the ball.” Most of the players like the sport because it’s fun and fresh. Chris Whitely says “It gives you a lot more freedom, and the sport lets you be creative with how you play.”

Millard United along with many other teams from Omaha, Gretna, Council Bluffs, Lincoln, Grand Island, and Sioux City come together to form tournaments twice a year. The winner goes to play nationally. Millard United has won multiple regional championships, and plans to win many more.