Men’s rugby club talks about their trip to Las Vegas


The Oakland Raiders aren’t the only team who made the move to Las Vegas in 2017.

The men’s club rugby team took their annual trip to Las Vegas to play in the Las Vegas 7’s Invitational a few weeks ago in what club president Jake Oppenheim called, “one of the greatest experiences of [his] life.”

“We became our own attraction,” Oppenheim, a junior political science major, said.

Oppenheim enjoyed dressing up in Hawaiian shirts and jorts – jean shorts – and hitting up Old Vegas when the team was free. There, they participated in an outside dance concert and garnered a crowd.

“People were taking pictures of us and doing the dances with us, we sort of became celebrities,” Oppenheim said.

The Las Vegas 7’s tournament remains a yearly highlight for the 14 players through and single coach on the trip. The Las Vegas 7’s is an international event with top teams from around the world.

Oppenheim remembers a rugby player from England helped pay for his Uber ride simply because they played the same sport.

“Rugby has a unique culture to it… simply because we all play this one less popular sport, we all have some bond with one another,” Oppenheim said.

The team stayed for five days in the bright lights of the Vegas Strip playing rugby and checking out the sights. They took measures in order to cut costs for the cross-country trip including flying during the week to help save money, since weekend flights are expensive.

“Because we were there to play, the hotel we stayed at offered us a discount on the rooms. That actually made it cheaper to stay longer so in total, the whole thing cost about $450 per person,” Oppenheim said.

Freshman Owen Lawther, an undecided major, is only in his first year as a member of the team but he already considers it a highlight of his career.

“The whole thing is a huge memory… it's stuff like this that makes me think of the team as a group of brothers and I’ve only known them for a semester,” Lawther said.

That bond makes the trip all the better for the team, as their Vegas trip can turn into a transition period between older and newer players.

“As the older guy, you can see the young guys on the trip listen to what you have to say which is great because it makes it way more about the team [as a whole],” said Trent Dingman, a senior mechanical engineering major.

This marked Dingman’s second team trip to Las Vegas.

Because Dingman has taken the trip before, he knew exactly where to go with his fellow players.

“Some of the best ones we went to were Circus Circus and Casino Royale,” Lawther said. “Circus Circus almost had an entire theme park in it. It is just so awesome to go there.”

All three of the players said that this experience wouldn’t have been possible if they were not part of the Rugby team.

“I couldn’t even imagine most other clubs leaving the time zone… there is nothing like being in an international tournament with that many people in Las Vegas,” Dingman said.

The results of the Las Vegas 7’s didn’t go the team's way as they ended the weekend going 1-3-1. Yet Dingman still saw the trip as a success. Two of the team's losses came in games where they were leading at the half.

In his fourth year with the team, Dingman looks at his time with rugby as extremely rewarding.

“There was a lot of times I thought of quitting the team because of my major, but if you make the team important to you, you can really learn valuable skills and get a great experience out of it.”

Thomas Zafonte is the assistant sports editor and he can be reached at