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By Amanda Cupido

The University of Toronto has always been a fierce rival of Ryerson University. But when it comes to rugby, the two sides are working together.

Until this year, rugby has never had an official presence at Ryerson. Ryan Stratton, the club supervisor and a fourth-year radio and television arts student, has been able to solidify a deal with the University of Toronto’s rugby program in order to bring the game to Ryerson.

“I spent the last two years trying to get a rugby team together,” Stratton says.

“It’s hard because Ryerson has no field.”

After approaching Garth Gottfried, the rugby coach at the University of Toronto, Stratton was able to develop a joint program that allowed Ryerson to use the rival university’s field. The Ryerson team would practice alongside the University of Toronto squad — since they had less players this year.

“We had been brainstorming how to increase numbers at training,” Gottfried says. “When we heard from Rye, we knew we had to make it happen.”

And interest in rugby at Ryerson is growing. With approximately 100 people on the email list and almost as many in the Facebook group, Stratton is happy to find that people want to come out. The next step is for the rugby club to get known on campus.

“Once we get our jerseys and tracksuits, it will be easier,” he says.

With the agreement in place, Stratton says the experienced players will train at the University of Toronto. He plans on having first-timers practice during the winter season.

“If it were up to me I’d tell everyone to come out,” he says. “I just feel limited right now.”

There won’t be a shortage of newcomers looking to play for Ryerson’s rugby club. Anthony Sangra, a first-year commerce student, has been looking forward to playing rugby in university. Sangra has been playing in an organized league for the last two years and wants to continue at Ryerson.

“I’m relieved there’s a club,” he says. “I brought all my training gear when I moved into residence.”

The rugby club has already started training twice a week and will soon be playing exhibition games against their training partners at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, once the scheduling is finalized.

The Ryerson team boasts players from a variety of countries, and other members have played competitive rugby before at an elite level.

Stratton hopes that one day Ryerson’s rugby club will become an official team and compete in Ontario University Athletics.

“I think we’d be good enough to compete for a medal,” he says. “It’s a physical challenge but once you get involved, you really love it.”

To find out more information about the Ryerson Rugby club, look for their group on Facebook.

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