The Rugby Past of the Football Coach


Photo by: Ana Sofia O. Pavao

Football coach Steve Jung played rugby in college.

Ana Sofia O. Pavao, Student of Journalism

To be on the wrong side of the ball in a rugby game is to be stomped on with metal cleats. 

This unfortunate casualty happened twice to Steve Jung during his 7-year-long career in rugby.

After playing football throughout high school, Mr. Jung sees himself tucked away working and studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and feels in his bones the absence of a competitive sport. 

He leaves work one day and spots a group of guys playing a brutal game with absolutely no protective gear out on the field, who in their right mind puts themselves through such pain?  

Next thing he knows, without even looking for it, he finds his way back into a competitive sport, and most importantly, he finds a family.

He challenges himself to adjust to the particularities of rugby. The lack of padding, the almost scandalous short shorts, and the roughness of tackling someone in clod blood leave their mark on him in the form of two separated shoulders in his first season of playing. 

“It was hard to move after a game.”

Jung learns to play through the pain, to not be bothered by the open wounds, and to be tough mentally and physically. 

He gets recruited by a team in Milwaukee and goes on to play for the United States Eagles. He travels the world playing, and collecting friendships and stories along the way.

Jung forms bonds for life during the traditional post-match banquets. He eats and drinks with his former opponents and teammates after the damage is done and the grass is trampled,  no matter what happened on the field.

He looks back fondly on his time playing and cherishes the friendships made. Rugby offers:  “The same camaraderie as football.” 

Sometimes, you just have to take your chances and join the borderline crazy group of people.