Carson’s Osheroff takes up rugby at Nevada
Ahron Osheroff knew what he wanted to play in college since listening to his father talk about his experiences playing the sport.
It’s not unusual for sons to follow in their fathers’ footsteps on the college level, but it’s unlikely that many American collegiate athletes have taken the same path that Osheroff and his father has. Osheroff is playing for the University of Nevada rugby team, taking up the sport that his father, Chris Osheroff, also played.
“He always told us that he played rugby and stuff,” said Osheroff about his father. “I decided whatever college I was going to I would play. I came to Nevada and here I am.”
Osheroff was already a successful athlete in high school before attending college, finishing second at 171 pounds in wrestling for Carson High in the NIAA 4A State Championships during his senior year in 2006. Osheroff has continued that success in rugby as he was named the team’s rookie of the year last season as a freshman.
“It’s really fun,” said Osheroff about rugby. If there’s ever a word that fits its sports, it is scrum because there are plenty of scrums in rugby and scrums can lead to a great deal of let’s just say extra-curricular physical activity. Or as Osheroff says, “You get to tackle guys. Other stuff happens which is cool.”
The best way to describe a scrum is it’s rugby’s equivalent to basketball’s jump ball, except virtually everyone on both teams participate and the ball is placed on the ground instead of thrown in the air.
And as a flanker, Osheroff’s main responsibility is to make if the other team’s player ends up with the ball that he doesn’t break free. “To get the first guy that breaks the scrum,” said Osheroff about his responsibility. “And then tackle the next guy. To keep inside contain.”
If teams allow an opponent who ends up with the ball to break their flank to the outside, the end result is at least a long run and likely a try, which is the equivalent of a touchdown in football, and worth five points in rugby. It’s Osheroff’s job to make sure that opponents don’t make it to the outside.
“Everybody gets the ball and it’s continuous,” Osheroff said. “There’s no stoppage like in football. I think as a spectator sport it’s more exciting than football because it’s not four hours long.”
By comparison, rugby has two 40-minute running clock halves with few stoppages, so games last about an hour-and-a-half.
And unlike football, players wear little pads or no pads at all. Osheroff admits he wears about a quarter-inch thick shoulder pads after separating his shoulder last season. Despite being out for six weeks, he was still the team’s rookie of the year.
“Most of the guys aren’t even wearing anything,” Osheroff said. “Just a moutpiece, (uniform) and socks.”
Nevada opened its season at home on Sunday, losing 27-19 against UC Davis, one of the nation’s top clubs. Nevada fell behind 27-0 before scoring 19 points in the last 15 minutes.
Osheroff stopped two scoring chances early by taking the ball away and was also a key part in Nevada’s first score. Osheroff admitted he’s still learning the game.
“Most of the time when I do that stuff I get penalized first,” said Osheroff about his two takeaways on Sunday. “I just learn not to do it again. When you’re playing that’s when you learn most of it.”
Despite the opening loss, Osheroff said the Wolf Pack should have a successful season. “I think once we get everybody on the same page, there shouldn’t be anything stopping us,” said Osheroff, who is a civil engineering major.
Osheroff is his own worst critic. “I come off the field, I feel like I played like crap,” he said.
But Osheroff also encourages those who want to continue their athletic careers in college to take up rugby.
“This is a great alternative,” he said. “Not everyone’s going to walk on the football team, you know.”
Nevada’s next game is at 6:30 p.m. Friday at home against Chico State.