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OKC rugby club closes season with Saturday match

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Horse-collar tackles, harsh language and copious amounts of bone-rattling collisions are core elements of one of the roughest sports imports: rugby. The Oklahoma Crusaders debuted this year in the Texas Rugby Union, scraping and clawing their way to a berth in the Division III playoffs held last weekend in Austin, Texas.

They lost, but will play a social match at 2 p.m. Saturday against the Dallas Diablos at the Crusaders' home field at 6103 N.W. 58th.

ROUGHNESS
Rugby is best likened to tackle football, sans protective padding, and mixed with the constant movement and flow of soccer.

 "People assume that to play rugby, you need to be a 6-foot-3 monstrous man that's willing to get hurt at any moment," said Crusader flanker Eric Winscher. "Most of the tackles are not NFL highlight tackles. They're softer than most people think. You don't really go out there to snot everybody, but it does happen from time to time."

MENTALITY
Although the Crusaders' season is wrapping up, the team is already on the lookout for new players to help fill out the roster. Because of the nonstop nature of rugby, Winscher said that grit often outweighs athletic ability.

 "The mentality is more important than the physicality," he said. "This isn't football, where you get a break every 30 seconds. You're out there running for two 40-minute halves nonstop, so you need to be mentally tough and stick with it, not give up halfway through a period."

For more information, visit their site. "Charles Martin

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