Ruck and roll: Meet the Screaming Minks

Austin Winslow, Staff Writer

The Washington and Lee Screaming Minks Rugby Football Club has built up its presence on campus over recent years.

Its team name, The Screaming Minks, and Instagram account (@wlurugby), has driven more student curiosity about the team.  

They have begun to recruit first-years as soon as they enter campus. Ben Roberts, ’26, and Devlin Daugherty, ’26, had never played rugby before coming to W&L. But after the club fair, current team members taught fundamentals to prospective members, giving them a chance to experience the game for themselves.  

“The best way to learn is really to get thrown into a game,” Daugherty said. “Everyone gets to play if you are on the team, but it’s just a matter of getting out there and seeing how it works.”   

The team also includes many seniors and even law students. The coaches are alumni Ryan Brink, who is also a Campus Kitchen coordinator, and Woody Harris. 

 W&L has had a rugby team since 1966 but has never recruited. The sport has always been more club-like but still involves formal games and travel to other schools. This year, the team has a full schedule with six games against other colleges in the Small College Conference.   

Practices and games take place at the Miller Field beyond the Liberty Hall Ruins. Practices are an hour to an hour and a half and are very informal. That has not changed much even as more members have joined.   

Not many are familiar with the game, but it’s comparable to some more well-known sports.  

“It’s like wrestling-soccer: that’s the best way of describing it,” Roberts said.   

Positions include forward and back players. Backs are smaller and quicker, and forwards are generally bigger. The forwards are a larger pack, and backs have more individual roles. 

The Screaming Minks play in groups of seven at a time. This requires less running than a game with 15 players per team might. Cal Christianson, ’24, started playing rugby in spring 2021 after a senior in his fraternity at the time took him to a practice. He values the relationships he’s made on the team more than the outcome of the season. 

“It really isn’t about winning and losing. It’s more about being active and competitive,” Christianson said. 

Though the team is competitive, they don’t face the same challenges as a varsity athlete.  

 “It’s a nice way to get that camaraderie without a massive time commitment,” Christianson said. 

The team spends time together outside of games and practice. There is also a rugby tradition where you hang out with the opposing team after you play the match. 

The Screaming Minks have not yet lost this season. But they did tie with Hampden-Sydney College on September 17. The team has one match left against Emory and Henry College on October 29. They expect it to be one of the most competitive matches yet.