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Oklahomans are tough enough for rugby

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The Oklahoma City Crusaders practice for an upcoming match. The Oklahoma City Crusaders practice for an upcoming match.
There are similarities between rugby and American football. There are similarities between rugby and American football.
If you can run for 80 minutes straight, you can play rugby, players said. If you can run for 80 minutes straight, you can play rugby, players said.
Rugby isn't as rough as it's reputation leads people to believe. Rugby isn't as rough as it's reputation leads people to believe.

By Christian Price, News9.com INsite Team

The Oklahoma City Crusaders say they're as tough as the sport they play.

Steve Martindale, co-founded the rugby team and says Oklahomans are eager to learn the game.

"Everybody comes out," Martindale said. "You have amateurs that come out. We've got guys that have never played rugby. We've got guys that don't even know how to spell rugby. We've got everything from white collar, blue collar, it doesn't matter. Construction guys, teachers, lawyers, anybody and everybody."

According to team players, there are a lot of misconceptions associated with rugby and its rough reputation.

"You're talking bumps, bruises, maybe some cuts and scrapes. I mean you are playing on grass," Martindale said. "You're going to get scraped up. But it's not like football. I'm not going to leave my feet to try and tackle you and hurt you because, well, it's going to hurt me."

The game of rugby is similar to American football in some aspects. If you can follow football, you should be able to follow rugby, said Stephen Taylor, the Crusaders' Director of Rugby .

"It's American football in a way that's continuously moving like soccer," Taylor said. "You have the hitting of American football with the running and skills of soccer where there's continuous movement. There's no stopping and starting, so it makes for a good spectator sport."

Keith Dixon plays for the Crusaders. His job causes him to travel a lot and playing rugby helps Dixon to meet new people.

"I move to a new city. I get transferred and no friends," Dixon said. "Who do you go to? Find a rugby club I got 15 guys straight away that are willing to talk to me. We're on the same level. Instant friends, just add water, or beer."

The Oklahoma City Crusaders are always looking for new players and Taylor says anyone can play rugby.

"With the game, it's for everybody," Taylor said. "If you watch us practice, we have guys who are almost 300 pounds down to guys that are about 125 pounds. There's a position regardless of size, height, and age, so please come out. No experience necessary."

The Crusaders home field is located at NW 58th and MacArthur, just west of MacArthur. Games are free and are open to the public.

"All we ask is that you clap and cheer for us," Martindale said.

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