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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    With the exception of the infamous “Friends” episode where Ross gets trashed by his girlfriend’s British friends in a friendly game of rugby, most Americans know little of the sport. It is a particularly demanding sport, a combination of both football and soccer, and it is relatively unknown in the States.

    However, junior John Gemma, President of the Men’s Rugby Team, hopes to change all that. He hopes to bring it to the mainstream, or at least as known as the other sports teams at Stony Brook and it’s already catching on.

    John Gemma is currently a Business and Economics major at Stony Brook. When asked about his future plans after Stony Brook, he replies “I’m not sure yet. I just want to be a grown-up,” he adds, laughing. While he may be undecided about his life after Stony Brook, he is very much decided in how he spends his life at Stony Brook. “It’s awesome. It’s great. Rugby is my life,” he says.

    However, it wasn’t all happiness for Gemma. Like most students arriving in their freshman year, he was overwhelmed by the vastness of Stony Brook. He says that the first month at Stony Brook was miserable and even considered transferring out. However, it was several guys on the rugby team that changed his mind. “It changed my life. [Rugby is] a huge part of my life,” he says.

    Gemma wasn’t a stranger to the game. He had first been introduced to it in high school, when one of his friends at Siena College brought home a ball during break. “We threw it around, the two of us” he says. He adds that was when he really got interested in the sport.

    As much as the game interested him, he wasn’t even thinking about rugby when he arrived at Stony Brook as a bewildered freshman. “I rode crew. I didn’t know that Stony Brook even had a rugby team,” he says. But all that changed when a few members of the team invited him to practice. He went to a practice, a game, and a social event after that. He says that that was it. “I was hooked. It’s unlike any other sport out there.”

    He quickly rose up the ranks, elected as Vice President in his sophomore year and President for his junior year. He says the responsibilities are just like anything else. “It’s what you make of them,” he says. His goal for the rugby team is for it to expand into not only a sports team but an all around team, a team that helps the student body and the community. He is also hoping to lead the rugby team to the National Championship. It’s not a far-fetched goal. In fact, during last fall’s competitive season, the Stony Brook Men’s Rugby Team finished in the Top 8 in the Beast of the East Tournament, the largest Rugby Tournament in the country.

    Not only has Gemma helped lead the team at the tournament, he has led the team to help out the community. Last Semester, the Stony Brook Men’s Rugby Team joined with Seton Hall University to raise $11,000 and donated it to the St. Baldwick’s Research Center for Children with Cancer.

    But that’s not the end of it. The Rugby Team, this past Monday, also sponsored a Blood Drive in the SAC. The team will also be holding a fundraiser along with sorority Theta Phi Alpha on Valentine’s Day in the SAC, selling flowers and candy.

    Gemma believes that he’s been lucky. He hopes others will follow his lead and get more involved on campus, whether it is rugby or anything else. New members are always welcome and can find out more at stonybrookrugby.org. “I found rugby,” he says. “When you associate yourself with a group, it makes everything more fun.”

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