Most would agree there are few places as overwhelming as the Shapiro Campus Center on the day of the Winter Involvement Fair. This Sunday, hundreds of students wandered through the atrium, some looking to join a new club and others passionately promoting their own. 

Curt Lieber ’19 was one of the latter. He stood in the crowd with his teammates, looking for potential recruits for the Brandeis Men’s Rugby Football Club. This past year, valuable players have graduated or gone abroad, leaving the team looking for new members. 

While the remaining players are passionate about the sport, they need more teammates as they move into their competitive season. Of recruitment Lieber said, “That’s the only challenge we face. … Once people actually show up and have some fun, they tend to stick around.” 

Lieber got involved in his first semester at Brandeis after he and a few friends signed up at the Winter Involvement Fair. “I had never played rugby before coming to Brandeis and they teach you everything,” he said. “We make it work; it’s always good people who want to come out.” 

This semester the team has joined the New England Rugby Football Union’s NERFU inaugural College 7s series. Rugby games can be played with teams of either seven or 15 players. Each team tries to pass, carry or kick the ball to the other team’s “ingoal” area. Doing this successfully awards the team points. This new 7s series requires only seven players, whereas other tournaments may require 15. 

The Brandeis Men’s Rugby Football Club is joining NERFU’s Metropolis Conference, where they will face teams from Salem State University, Curry College, Babson College and Lasell College. They will play a total of three games as part of this conference, though they may take part in other tournaments and games throughout the spring. 

“If we can have people to have fun this semester [in 7s season] it’s easy to carry over that momentum into the fall. After this activities fair, it seems like a lot of people are interested,” Lieber said. He also mentioned the team is working on coordinating more with the Brandeis Women’s Rugby Football Club for recruiting and social events. 

“I think a lot of people look for that camaraderie. That’s what really resonated with me,” Lieber said. He thought back to a practice last year in the early spring, which was his first full-contact practice. 

It had snowed several days earlier and low temperatures caused the ground to be icy and hard. “About halfway through [practice] it starts snowing. … We’re doing pushups on our hands in the snow, and as awful as it sounds, that’s where you see who your true teammates are,” Lieber said. “If you can laugh about that and smile while you’re doing it, that’s pretty fun.”

—The Justice’s Sports editor, Ben Katcher ’20, is the president of Brandeis Men’s Rugby Football Club.