News: Marines bring rugby from home to Iwakuni
Story by Pfc. Nicholas Rhoades
IWAKUNI, Yamaguchi - Recently station Marines decided to bring their favorite sport here to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Today those same Marines are saying, “Rugby has arrived.”
“Rugby here isn’t provided by Marine Corps Community Services such as other major sports like basketball, soccer, baseball, et cetera,” said Lt. Col. Thomas A. Wagoner, station staff judge advocate. “This forces these Marines to really fight for a sport that they love by paying for their own travel and getting the word out to other athletes,” Wagoner added.
Players say they are trying extremely hard to keep this sport here and continue competing with Japanese teams.
“Many sports aren’t very popular here in Japan, but for Marines, we all come from different backgrounds and some of us grew up on rugby, or contact football, or hockey, and we just don’t have anywhere to play our favorite sports. But with the new rugby team, I think it allows more athletes to participate,” said Lance Cpl. Jacob G. McClinton, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron air traffic controller.
“A lot of the players out here are football players who have never played a game of rugby but have always been interested, and then there are the seasoned veterans who have been playing the game since they were little, and everyone in between,” McClinton added.
For the Marines playing the sport for their first time, the biggest obstacle isn’t learning how to play the game, it's something
“The biggest challenge is not even just getting used to the game, it’s getting used to the competition,” said McClinton. “The Japanese teams are quite a bit faster than us but we have size and that’s a huge advantage in this game. We try to focus on using brute strength and size to force them to slow down and when they do, then they are playing our game and they normally don’t like it. They’re just not used to it.”
The style of play in Japan may differ, but it allows for Marines to take their own approach to the game and create their own style of play.
“We all know they’re fast, but they all know that we’re trained to be tough, they know we’re big and we hit hard. It scares them and I love that it does,” said McClinton. “It really brings something new to the game, being able to have two completely different cultures with different styles face off against each other. It always makes it seem like the game of the century.