Hobart Rugby Team builds on success

Written by Nicholas Serrano. Posted in Sports

Published on March 30, 2011 with No Comments

by Carl Kurek

Last November, The Chronicle reported on the Northwest Indiana Exiles Rugby Football Club and their fruitful season, which extended all the way to the Regional finals and amounted to a season record of 9-2. The team’s home pitch – rugby terminology for the field on which the game is played – is located across the street from Festival Park on the outskirts of downtown Hobart. Coming off a successful season and having recruited many new “ruggers,” the team expects to see the stands to start filling up when they play at home.

“Everybody likes the winning team,” Tae’Ni Chang-Stroman, who doubles as coach and player with the Exiles, said.

“And more players equals more fans. But it’ll be good, it’ll add some depth to our team.”

Chang-Stroman, who is also a pediatrician, said the increase of players will come in handy when injuries occur and on road games, when obligations such as jobs and families keep some players from making a trip to Illinois or Michigan.

At 48, the rugby-playing doctor is also the oldest current member of the Exiles and has been playing the sport since he was in medical school some 24 years ago. He was told he had high blood pressure and had to start exercising or begin taking medicine. He chose exercise but was big on the idea of becoming a gym rat so he got involved with rugby in college, a time he said many people get introduced to the sport.

Chang-Stroman began playing with the Exiles in 2000 and took on the coaching position in 2008. While he enjoys coaching, his passion and love for the game drives him to keep playing. And the team benefits.

“I’m kind of the ultimate utility tool because I know how to play every position,” he said.

But age is just a number, and Chang-Stroman’s teammate Don Ingersoll will testify to that.

“He (Chang-Stroman) might be one of the oldest, but he’s probably the fittest guy on our team. Age doesn’t matter, we’re just a group of guys who come out and play,” Ingersoll said.

Ingersoll, who at age 35 said he feels older after every game, also started playing rugby while in college and the Purdue grad said he has been hooked ever since. He said the fact that the team has the same core group of players from last year but also has the group of new ruggers means great things for the Exiles.

“We have a good mix now of people who with different levels of experience,” Ingersoll said. “We’ve seen numbers increasing over the years and we see that continuing. Rugby is a club sport so numbers are really important.”

Had the Exiles won their regional game in November, they would be playing in the National tournament in place of a spring season. While the spring season does include two tournaments, Ingersoll said the spring season is all about building for the fall.

So, build they will.

“I think we can go further, I mean we were two games away from Nationals last year,” Ingersoll said. “That’s definitely a goal, getting out of the Midwest and going National. And I see us in great shape to do that this year.”

Chang-Stroman could not agree more.

“We’re getting better numbers, getting better skilled people and getting more people who just know how to play,” he said. “We’re just building higher and higher.”

Anyone interested in trying their hand at rugby should venture onto the field during the Exiles practice, held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. While players must pay to play in the league, games are free for the public to attend and take place on Saturdays at 1 p.m. The Hobart pitch is located at 112 E. Old Ridge Road.

For more information, contact Ingersoll at 847-682-4693, or at don0256@hotmail.com, or visit www.northwestindianarugby.com.

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