By Xavier Bleuel–
Earlier this month, the university hosted a well-known figure from the other side of the pond. For 17 years, Duncan Bell played professional rugby in England and Wales. In addition to his club teams, he also played for England’s National squad. Bell played club ball in Wales for five years before heading to the powerhouse of South West England, Bath, Somerset, where he cemented his legacy in a remarkable nine-year career with the club. He retired in 2011 and has since transitioned his life as a husband and a coach. Bell decided to take some time out of his honeymoon in Louisville to come down and give some eager students a clinic on the sport that made him so famous back home.
Inside the basketball gym in Dougherty Hall, otherwise known as the ROTC building, the U of L rugby team was present, mixed with a few high-school students. Head rugby coach Eric Raney and a group of spectators were on hand to watch the players run through multiple drills as they started off the day. Soon after, they were in action, completing 10 straight passes to each teammate without letting the ball intercept or hit the ground, which claims victory in each short segment. It was fast-paced and intense. Bell didn’t appear to be on vacation, as his intensity was front and center. He didn’t accept anything but perfection. Each mistake the players made meant they had to do push-ups. The team that lost each segment did up-downs. The team practiced three crucial formations to end the day: the line-out, maul and the scrum.
The team was more than grateful for the two and a half hours Bell spent with them on the cold Saturday morning.
“It was very rewarding. I appreciate Bell coming out and sharing his time with the team,” Rugby Club President Dayne Graff expressed. “It’s good to get someone out in front of the new guys that really knows what he’s doing. It’s a big motivating factor.”
It should be an exciting season for the rugby team. They will play against teams from Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia and more teams from across the country. The U of L rugby season officially kicks off on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Photos: Tricia Stern/The Louisville Cardinal