Not all student athletes on the campus of the University of Louisiana have luxury scholarships, big stadiums, or even school funding. Many, like those on UL's highly successful rugby team, compete simply for the love of the game. caught up with UL Rugby Captain Joe Rolf to learn more about life as a club sport athlete.

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Tell us about yourself.

I'm 21 years old, and a third-year student. This is my first year as rugby captain. I've got 2 older brothers and a little sister. I'm a broadcasting major at UL, and I'd like to be an anchor on TV, or a teacher. I went to Jesuit High in New Orleans.

How did you get into rugby?

I played football all through high school, and my senior year when football season ended, I was looking for something else to do. I had always wanted to play rugby, but my mom had always said it was too dangerous. My senior year she finally gave in.

The Jesuit team was the best team I'd ever played for. Everyone on the team was a senior. We played state club teams, like the all-star teams from different states. We made it all the way to nationals in Pittsburgh. We finally lost to Highland from Utah. They were very good. They even had a movie made about them, Forever Strong.

The New Orleans rugby system produces the best rugby players in the state. My friend Sebastian Holley from Jesuit came to UL and joined to rugby team in the fall of '08.

Talk about UL Rugby.

It's a very tight-knit family. I'd call it a fraternity, but it's much smaller and much closer. Our coach Boyd LeJeune is our leader and father-figure, he keeps everyone together.

My first full season last year, we were in Division 3 Deep South and we went all the way to nationals. We had some referee issues in the first game, won the second game and ended up winning third place in the nation. We did so well that we got promoted to the SEC.

This season was our first in the SEC. We played Ole Miss, Miss State and LSU. We went 2-1 with a loss to LSU.

What's the game-day atmosphere like?

We play on the intramural fields behind Blackham Coliseum. We have some very loyal fans, they either have had kids who played with us, or they know someone on the team, or they just love rugby. They go above and beyond to support us. Their official name is "The Red Army."

The game-day atmosphere is very emotional. When we are winning the crowd is very into it. When we are losing the crowd gives the ref hell.

How would you describe the guys on the team?

Wild, with a lot of heart. Most other teams respect us for how we play on the field. We are known as a big hitting team, though we are smaller than most other teams.

Our team is made up of a lot of ex-football and ex-wrestling guys, and a few ex-service men as well, pretty much anyone who doesn’t care too much about their bodies. You have to be a little crazy to play.

The rugby team is a family. My roommate is on the team. Guys come over all the time to play video games, go swimming, and just hang out. I see at least six of the guys every day. We are always with each other.

How do you guys raise money to play?

We work booths at festivals in Lafayette, we pull from our parents and companies we work for, and there are teachers who love us and try to give us grants. This year for the first time UL supported us with $3000. In fact, they said if we wanted more we could request it.

Dr. JoAnne Derouen is the team mother. She gets grants for us, works with UL to make sure they contribute money to us, and helps us with fun raisers. A lot of things would not be possible without her.

How can fans get information about the team?

We have a website, We are also have a facebook page that sends out notifications when we play. Our website gives all the information.

Our primary season is in the Spring. We play a couple of scrimmages and all-star tournaments in the Fall.

Rugby season are short. If you go all the way to nationals it can be up to 8 weeks, but you are only guaranteed about 4 weeks.

Does the team embrace Cajun culture?

We have about 25 guys on the team every year. Around eight of them are from Cajun decent. Our coach speaks French, and we get a lot of “IIIIIIEEEEE” cheers. We really embrace the Cajun-ness of our team.

Teams usually have more fun coming here to play us than we do going to play them. I think a lot of that has to do with the culture. People here know how to party. I couldn’t say Lafayette parties harder than New Orleans or vice-versa, both know how to party very well, that’s for sure.

New Orleans will always be my first love, but I love Lafayette. I love the food and the culture.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about joining the team?

When we are holding practice just show up. You can also contact us through our website, or find us on facebook.

In rugby, size doesn’t matter, be willing to hit and get hit. Be ready to have a really good time, and be welcomed like a family member. It's not like any other team you have ever played for at any other school.

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