The Kansas City Blues Rugby Club will resume conference play with home games on Saturday and April 12.
The club plays its games at the Sporting Kansas City Training Facility, 6301 Lewis Rd. in Swope Park.
The match Saturday is against the Palmer Griffins from Davenport, Iowa, and the match April 12 is against the Columbus RFC. Each match starts at 6:30 p.m.
This marks the second half of Thunderbird Conference play. The Blues posted a 10-3 record in the 2013 portion of the schedule and have a 6-3 record in conference play.
The Blues have been playing rugby in Kansas City since 1966 with four appearances in the USA Rugby’s D1 National Championship Final Four since 1993.
Pete Kowalski played with the Blues from 2002 through 2013 when he retired. He is now on the Club’s board of directors and is the communications director.
Although similar to football, rugby started much earlier.
“The modern game of rugby football originated accidentally,” Kowalski said. “In 1823, William Webb Ellis was a student at the Rugby School in England and was involved in an interclass football (soccer) game.
“Ellis was chagrined over his failure to kick the bouncing ball with any success, so he picked it up and ran with it. The news of his run with the ball soon got around, and certain players felt that the option of kicking to running with the ball might add zest to a contest, and it was adopted.”
And from such a spontaneous beginning, the modern game of rugby evolved.
Football fans will see several similarities but also differences.
The Blues are an amateur club with players holding regular jobs but also participating in two to three team training sessions per week along with some individual workout sessions.
The club has an active roster of 40 players. There are 15 players for each team in a game.
In addition to the regular Blues team, there ares an Old Boys side (35 and over) called the Blues Brothers and an Under 19 high school side (Junior Blues).
The Blues also have a summer elite 7s Rugby program in the summer.
“As 7s Rugby readies to join the Olympic Games in 2016, the Blues are actively working to develop our athletes with our Club and youth pipeline into world-class level rugby players who can someday represent the Blues and Kansas City on the world stage,” Kowalski said.
Kowalski mentioned several players from the Kansas City area.
They include Matthew Hoover (Shawnee Mission East graduate), who lives in Roeland Park; Colin McFarland (Rockhurst High), who lives in Overland Park; Brodie Orth (Park Hill), who lives in Parkville; Kevin Schwartze (Rockhurst High), who lives in Kansas City; Chris George (St. Thomas Aquinas), who lives in Prairie Village; Jim Eftink (Rockhurst High), who lives in Overland Park; Casey Cummings (Rockhurst High), who lives in Kansas City; Kelly Mercer (Rockhurst High), who lives in Kansas City); Conner Smith (Rockhurst High), who lives in Kansas City, and Kenny Scott (Shawnee Mission South). who lives in Shawnee Mission.
“Fans will find a friendly and inviting atmosphere and can get close to the action as they take in some incredible athleticism and physicality on display on the field,” Kowalski said. “The Blues play a very fast-paced, and adventurous style of rugby, combining speed with some tremendous size and fitness and feature lineup filled with young, talented players.”