DSC_8244Bethel launched its inaugural season of rugby – one of the fastest growing college sports in the United States – in the fall of 2015. The team featured players from a variety of sports backgrounds. Despite some of the players needing to learn the fundamentals of the game for the first time, the team managed to score a solid first season with a record of 4-2.

Patrick Hafenbridle-edit

Patrick Hafenbridle

Two of the team’s more seasoned rugby players Patrick Hafenbridle ’16 and Caleb Keas ’18 found their place on the pitch at University of Kentucky (an NCAA Division 1 school) before transferring to Bethel. For Hafenbridle, the love he felt for the sport came as a surprise.

“I was actually trying to walk on to a college football team. I was just playing rugby to get into shape, but I ended up liking it way more.”

After developing their devotion to the sport, Hafenbridle and Keas moved to Bethel at the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester to become a part of the school’s emerging team.

“UK was fine, but I wanted something [a school] that was a little more serious about rugby,” says Keas.

Caleb Keas

Caleb Keas

Upon their arrival, they were immediately impressed with Bethel’s program.

“Bethel has school support, and since it’s a varsity program it opens a lot of doors,” Keas explains.

“We are a varsity program that practices five times a week. Most programs only practice twice a week,” says Hafenbridle, who partially attributed the team’s 4-2 record with the more intensive practice schedule. “When you’re practicing like that, you’re going to win games.”

Beyond the team’s success, Hafenbridle and Keas were pleased with the community among the players.

“There’s a kind of comrade that I’ve never seen anywhere else,” says Hafenbridle. “In football you can kind of have a one-man team, but in rugby, that’s not really the case. We’re [the team is] one big, weird family.”

The two also spoke to the warmth of the atmosphere at the school.

“All the adjustments for me have been positive,” says Keas. “I didn’t expect the professors to be so nice.”

Hafenbridle and Keas were equally overwhelmed by the fan base that surrounded the team.

“I want to say thanks for the support,” says Keas. “At UK only 20-25 people ever showed up for the games. At every Bethel game, we’d have about 100 fans.”

“I want to give a huge, huge ‘thank you’ for the welcome we’ve had to campus,” Hafenbridle added. “I’ve never had the chance to play for a crowd like this, [but] I’d also love to see more people come out.”

Bethel Rugby returned to the pitch for a short spring season, and will launch another full season this fall. For more season highlights and updates on new recruits, visit BethelCollegePilots.com.

If you or someone you know is interesting in playing rugby at Bethel, contact Coach Gil Gadia at Gil.Gadia@BethelCollege.edu.