Local Mac rugby team toiling outside limelight
On the grass field behind the church though, there’s all kinds of yelling and laughing going on.
Monday signifies the first day of the week for the Valley Rams (4-2) ruby team. Players slowly begin to pull into the church parking lot at 4 p.m. and the impending start of practice looms.
The field itself is a simple layout of grass. There are no goals to practice tries, no scoreboard and no form of chalk to outline what is out of bounds. The Rams use shoes and other random objects to form boundary lines.
Coach Trevor DaSilva leads practice. DaSilva coaches the team and teaches at Yamhill-Carlton High School. He played rugby collegiately at Western Oregon University from 2004-09 and also began coaching the Valley Rams in 2009.
DaSilva said practices have been on Bethel’s bare field of grass for as long as he can remember.
“It’s not much, but the church has always allowed us to practice here,” DaSilva said. “We asked them and they said yes, so it’s always been here.”
The Valley Rams are a part of the Club Championship division in Rugby Oregon, which is a part of Oregon Youth Rugby, a non-profit organization for high school girls and boys.
The Valley Rams play their home games at Duniway Middle School where the team has a football goal post to practice tries.
When DaSilva took over the coaching duties in 2009, his first goal was to change the philosophy of the team. DaSilva said since the team is a part of Oregon Youth Rugby, which promotes physical fitness, teamwork and leadership skills through the game of rugby, DaSilva said he wanted to cater more to that message.
“Honesty, playing for the guy next to you and respecting the game,” said DaSilva of his goals. “This team is rock solid and gives 100 percent effort.”
DaSilva said he knows that the interest level for the game of rugby is low in Yamhill County, but said he has found a dedicated group that wants to play the game at a high level.
All of his recruits have come from Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville High School.
The newest generation of Valley Rams expects all 26 members of the team to live up to DaSilva’s expectations.
“These guys love the sport, take it seriously and want to win,” DaSilva said. “McMinnville has a long history with rugby and have guys who know that and want to be a part of that history.”
The Rams currently have four seniors on the team: Roman Yoder, David McMahon, Trevor Broyles and Chris Cerda.
Cerda has spent his four years at McMinnville competing in other sports. He was a left tackle on the football team his junior year, and has been a member of the wrestling team. Now, Cerda has decided to try rugby for the first time. Cerda said he was encouraged by friends and members of the rugby team to come out and try the sport.
“In football, as a lineman, I never got to carry the ball,” Cerda said. “In rugby, as long as you’re tough enough, you get to carry the ball. That’s what attracted me to the sport.”
Cerda said he immediately noticed a big difference between football and rugby.
He said the versatility of size isn’t appreciated in football, the same way it is in rugby. Cerda said it’s always players like the running back and quarterback that get the attention, and linemen don’t receive their fair praise.
“The linemen do all the blocking for them,” Cerda said. “(in rugby) get to prove yourself, and there’s not statistics. There’s no one special guy. Everyone has a role to play and an equal chance.”
Cerda said a big, important similarity between the two sports is a simple one: “The lower man always wins.” He said it’s always important to stay low in rugby because, like in football, it’s tough to tackle standing straight up.
The Rams never practice the same way twice.
Each practice the team will do a drill or longer scrimmage that they didn’t do in the last practice. DaSilva said he likes to mix up practice to keep guys refreshed. Cerda had a different take on the way the Rams practice.
“Again, I bring it back to football,” Cerda said. “You do the same drills every day, and that gets boring. Here, we mix it up and have fun.”
The Rams start each practice with a game of 10 minute, two-hand-touch rugby. Cerda said it makes a difference because the team enjoys it, has fun, and gets some laughs in the process.
DaSilva’s process has helped the Rams build an impressive season despite a young roster. Saturday, the Rams shut out the Lake Oswego Vandals 35-0 for their fourth win of the season.
With two games left before seasons end, the Rams have their sights set on a six-win season and look to make even more noise, no matter how quiet Northwest Baker Creek road gets.
“We want to do the best we can and perform at the highest level,” McMahon said.