‘Tis the season to give back as well! Just like Dylan and his family, USC Rugby looks to play an active part in helping its community next season.

From USC Rugby Back, Dylan Sidoo:

The holidays for me are about giving back to my community. This Christmas our family foundation donated to Kids Play, an organization in association with Guru Angad Dev elementary school. The program uses sports as a positive channel to keep kids away from pursuing a criminal lifestyle.

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usc-trojans-sc-logoThere are few sports more commonly misunderstood by Americans than rugby. Like cricket, Formula One racing and, to a lesser degree, tennis, rugby has escaped the perennial American spotlight perhaps because it lacks the intrinsic “American” qualities invoked by games invented by Americans themselves: football, baseball and basketball. But football as Americans know it owes much of its basic tenets to rugby. Just ask any member of USC’s rugby club, which kicked off preseason play this weekend. Former USC football player and current rugby club president Joey Krassenstein is helming the rugby team this season, and he hopes to continue recruiting more players as the team plays its final season under the stewardship of current head coach David Lytle, who plans to retire after 35 years of coaching.

Rugby itself could be described, for the most part, by comparing it to a single college football play: The Play from 1982 Cal-Stanford game, where Cal’s team took a kick off and proceeded to throw multiple backward laterals after tackles to continue advancing the ball to score a game-winning touchdown on a single kickoff return. A rugby offense at its highest level can be summarized in that one play, with one difference: The players don’t wear pads.

“Rugby is fluid, free moving, meaning it never stops,” Krassenstein said. “It only stops for penalties.” Krassenstein insists that despite the fact that rugby players wear virtually no protective gear, the game carries a far lower risk of injury.

“There’s actually a lot less injuries, and definitely fewer career-ending injuries in rugby than in American football,” Krassenstein said. “If you asked me which sport is tougher, I’d say football. Because the play is shorter and guys are using protective gear such as shoulder pads and helmets, players go full steam ahead. In rugby if you’re going to hit someone, you have to wrap up and go down with them.”

It doesn’t make much sense in words, but when actually demonstrated, it makes sense: There’s much less to hit with, so to speak, so there isn’t as much room for high impact injuries. Rugby players tackle by lowering their shoulders, grabbing an opposing player around the waist and pulling them down. There are no “helmet-to-helmet” tackles, no “dipping the shoulder” and no players getting clocked on a hit. Because the objective in rugby is to retrieve the ball from the opposing offensive player, not to end the play by putting a player on the ground, rugby requires a more nuanced technique of tackling.

Regardless of these differences with American football, rugby is not for the faint of heart. It shares with football all of the same connotations of warriors entering into battle. At one practice, a player from USC’s rugby team emerges from a pre-practice scrimmage with a blackening eye and open wound on the side of his face, looking more suited for a Halloween party than athletic activity.

“That’s a rugby player for you,” Lytle says, chuckling. The assistant coaches advise that the player get his wound dressed immediately and bar him from practicing.

Speaking of practice, it begins promptly at 6 p.m. in Cromwell Track & Field Stadium on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A small contingent of the USC marching band’s drum line stays behind to practice on the sidelines, the hollow skittering of their snare drums ringing out into the cold air. The team files into five lines, stretching and running uniformly. The proceedings have a militaristic air about them.

After stretches, the players line up at four corners and begin to run with a ball, engaging in drills where they pass the ball — always a lateral or backward lateral — and continue to run. Lytle observes his troops fondly, like a proud, silent general, with a cup of coffee in hand. After drills, players break up into two groups: forwards and backs. Forwards practice engaging in the scrum, a large, ring-like lock between players similar to the trenches in American football — the players in this group come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a stout, bowling-ball like student to a tall, muscular fellow who looks more like a football wide receiver than a lineman. All the players seem to have one thing in common: really strong legs that will help propel them in the scrum and push the “line of scrimmage,” so to speak, further back in their team’s favor.

Backs continue running in single file lines while simultaneously practicing their lateral passes. These distinctions are largely cosmetic; though there are players “preferred” as backs or forwards, every player contributes to the overall goal in the same way. There are no ineligible receivers in rugby, so even the largest player can carry the ball. Lytle admits this was what made him so interested in rugby.

“In football, maybe five or six guys will touch the ball,” Lytle said. “In rugby, anyone can carry the ball. Anyone can score.”

This aspect of the game is perhaps most fascinating. In rugby, a “touchdown” is actually called a “try.” Whereas in American football the ball only needs to cross the plane, in rugby football the ball needs to touch both the player and the ground — which is, ironically, where the term “touchdown” actually originated. The subsequent kick after the “try” is referred to as a “conversion.” The try is worth differing amounts of points depending on the code of play, but the kick is always worth two points. There is very little individual glory in rugby —no chest-thumping running backs celebrating in the end zone, no exuberant soccer forwards sliding across the pitch on their knees swallowing up all the commercial endorsements.

In Lytle’s team, each player is equally accountable for their team’s success in a strategic way, and all are equally capable of scoring in a given situation. Teams play with respect for one another and out of respect for the game, like in some sort of twisted fantasy world where sportsmanship still exists. Krassenstein sums up the feeling of this camaraderie in rugby with an old axiom.

“I always say that soccer is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, and that rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen,” Krassenstein said. “We might tackle each other and hit each other, but we don’t flop for a call or play dishonestly, because there’s no room for that in rugby. At the end of the game, we shake each other’s hands like men, and we can go out for a pint.”

Euno Lee is a senior majoring in English literature. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Euno What Time It Is,” runs Tuesdays.

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By David Biderman
Updated Jan. 15, 2010 12:01 a.m. ET

Football fans everywhere are preparing to settle in for the NFL’s biggest and most electric weekend of the season—a four-game playoff marathon that will swallow up at least 12 hours of broadcast time over two days.

But here’s something even dedicated students of the game may not fully appreciate: There’s very little actual football in a football game.

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Photo illustration: Jeff Mangiat, photos, Getty Images (2), Associated Press (cheerleader), NFL (replay)

According to a Wall Street Journal study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes.

In other words, if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there’s barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg. In fact, the average telecast devotes 56% more time to showing replays.

So what do the networks do with the other 174 minutes in a typical broadcast? Not surprisingly, commercials take up about an hour. As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time, excluding commercials, is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps. In the four broadcasts The Journal studied, injured players got six more seconds of camera time than celebrating players. While the network announcers showed up on screen for just 30 seconds, shots of the head coaches and referees took up about 7% of the average show.

If you think the networks are a little too fond of cheerleaders, you may be mistaken: In these broadcasts, only two networks showed cheerleaders at all. And when they did, they were only on camera for an average of three seconds. “We make it a point to get Dallas cheerleaders on, but otherwise, it’s not really important,” says Fred Gaudelli, NBC’s Sunday Night Football producer. “If we’re doing the Jets, I couldn’t care less.”

Football—at least the American version—is the rare sport where it’s common for the clock to run for long periods of time while nothing is happening. After a routine play is whistled dead, the clock will continue to run, even as the players are peeling themselves off the turf and limping back to their huddles. The team on offense has a maximum of 40 seconds after one play ends to snap the ball again. A regulation NFL game consists of four quarters of 15 minutes each, but because the typical play only lasts about four seconds, the ratio of inaction to action is approximately 10 to 1. (At the end of a game, if one team has a lead and wants to prevent the other team from scoring again, standing around and letting the clock run down becomes a bona fide strategy).

For broadcasters, filling these idle moments is always a unique challenge. Ken Crippen, the executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association, who has a collection of broadcasts that date back to the 1930s, says most early telecasts showed a constant feed of the field with a few shots of the scoreboard for variety. “It was basically just constant, live action,” he says.

Things began to change in the mid-1960s, when instant replay became commonplace. By the 1970s, broadcast crews had expanded to an average of eight cameras and three production trucks, a number that has only continued to grow. Mr. Gaudelli says that by the 1990s, some football broadcasts showed about 100 replays per game.

In the past decade, regular-season football telecasts have evolved into major productions that can cost between $150,000 and $250,000. Networks say they have anywhere from 80 to 200 people on hand per game with dozens of cameras. (NBC says its broadcasts require seven production trucks.) Producers say all this technology has made it easier to show shots of wacky fans, demonstrative coaches on the sidelines and video segments prepared before the game.

The result is that broadcasters have so many options that they have to spend a lot more time planning what to show—and what not to. Lance Barrow, CBS’s lead football-game producer, says his crew meets for several hours with players and coaches from the home and road teams in the two days before kickoff just to prepare material to present during dead time. In August, Bill Brown, a senior football producer for Fox, says he met with about 100 colleagues at a conference center in New York to prepare the network’s game plan for the season.

According to Mr. Brown, there are often so many graphics and fillers at his crew’s disposal that they’ve had to take pains to make sure they don’t commit what he describes as the “mortal sin” of football broadcasting: missing a snap. “That’s absolutely a jarring thought,” Mr. Brown says.

For this study, The Journal broke down every frame of the broadcasts for four games on four networks on one weekend in late December. These included games between the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons on CBS, the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks on Fox, the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins on NBC and the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings on ESPN. Each shot in every broadcast was timed and logged in one of 22 categories.

In this sample of games, the networks showed some significant differences. ESPN showed 24 minutes worth of replays in its game, which was 41% more than the average of the other three networks. Jay Rothman, ESPN’s senior coordinating producer for Monday Night Football, attributes this to the presence of Minnesota’s star quarterback, Brett Favre. Mr. Favre, he says, is a “move-the-meter guy,” who warrants a lot of extra attention.

In its game, NBC devoted more than twice as much time to nongame video packages as its competitors (decades-old pictures of John Madden with his wife, anyone?). CBS devoted 40 seconds to showing Atlanta’s kicker, Matt Bryant, warming up to make a kick, which was more time than the other three networks devoted to kickers combined. (The kick was blocked).

In its game, Fox showed about 37% fewer replays than the other networks. Fox also showed about 16% more shots than the other networks of players on the sidelines.

When it comes to showing the cheerleaders, CBS won the day with about seven seconds. NBC had just over four seconds, and Fox and ESPN had no cheerleaders whatsoever. “Cheerleaders are bigger in college,” says Mr. Brown of Fox, who notes that NFL cheerleaders from the visiting teams don’t travel to road games and aren’t as ingrained in the game as they are in college. “It’s not that we don’t like them,” adds ESPN’s Mr. Rothman. “They’re just not our motivation.”

What’s in a Game?

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Charts to see how every minute is accounted for in a sampling of four recent NFL games on different networks.

The real test for any football-broadcast crew is what they do in a blowout. In cases like these, producers say they have no choice but to stray from on-field action. In the second quarter of the CBS game, for instance, the Bills and Falcons only managed to score three points. In that time, there were 88 shots of off-field elements, including 31 shots (186 seconds) where the cameras were trained on the two teams’ coaches. That was 54% more than the average amount in any other quarter in that game.

When the Cowboys-Redskins game flagged in the second half, NBC turned to the activities of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder—both of whom were sitting in their luxury boxes. Together, they got about eight seconds of air time in the first and second quarters when the game was close and more than 55 seconds in the third and fourth when the Cowboys had things firmly in hand.

The most surprising finding of The Journal’s study—that the average game has just 10 minutes and 43 seconds of actual playing time—has been corroborated by other researchers. In November 1912, Indiana University’s C.P. Hutchins, the school’s director of physical training, observed a game, stopwatch in hand, between two independent teams. He counted 13 minutes, 16 seconds of play. During last week’s Wild Card games, Mr. Crippen, the football researcher, dissected the broadcasts and found about 13 minutes, 30 seconds of action.

But while the game itself hasn’t changed much, there’s no question the broadcasts have evolved quickly.

Mr. Gaudelli of NBC, who has broadcast football games since 1990, says the good old days weren’t always so good. “I tell our production assistants who are in their 20s that they should have to learn how to edit like we did when men were men,” he says.

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Fall Semester 2014 72 instructional days
Open Registration Mon-Fri August 18-22
Move-In Wed August 20
Classes Begin Mon August 25
Labor Day Mon September 1
Thanksgiving Wed-Sat November 26-29
Classes End Fri December 5
Study Days Sat-Tue December 6-9
Exams Wed-Wed December 10-17
Winter Recess Thu-Sun December 18-January 11
Spring Semester 2015 73 instructional days
Open Registration Thu-Fri January 8-9
Classes Begin Mon January 12
Martin Luther King’s Birthday Mon January 19
Presidents’ Day Mon February 16
Spring Recess Mon-Sat March 16-21
Classes End Fri May 1
Study Days Sat-Tue May 2-5
Exams Wed-Wed May 6-13
Commencement Fri May 15

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By USC Rugby Player Zach G.

Formal_Viterbi_MASTERAs much as I love engineering and everything associated with Viterbi, at the same time I enjoy getting to know people in different majors and associate with different groups. Having played rugby my senior year of high school, I knew when I came to SC that I wanted to continue playing the sport. Being the only person from my high school to come out to USC also pushed me to try out for the team and meet new people.

What I love the most about the rugby team is the camaraderie between all of the guys on the team. Some of my best friends are on the team, and we all like to hang out outside or practice and games. The team has allowed me to meet a ton of different people at the university who I otherwise would not know. While playing a sport does represent a significant time commitment, I make it work with my engineering course load and wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

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USC-photo-2012

Did you know you can donate to stock to Charitable Funds at big brokerage houses, instead of directly to a charity. The Brokerage house’s fund IS the charity (for tax deductions) and then you direct where the proceeds go (to multiple places). The attached is a similar idea, but donating directly to USC Rugby.

The great thing about it is that you don’t have to pay capital gains tax on the profits AND you get to deduct the entire donation (which includes the gains).

If you bought Apple for $25 and it is now worth $100. You’ve had it at least one year and decide to sell. You have to pay capital gains tax on the $75 gain.

But with these Charitable Funds, you could donate all $100 of Apple stock. You get to write off all $100 as a donation on your taxes. And you don’t have to pay ANY capital gains tax. Sweet!

USC’s strong comeback still not enough to beat Claremont

claremont-colleges-logoThe USC Trojans travelled to the Claremont Mckenna Colleges where they began the game weak. A first half penalty kick by Danny Del Bianco and a strong run by flanker OJ Haugen put points on the board for the Trojans. The first half score was 28-8. In the second half the Trojans finally got their act together and put three tries on the board within 15 minutes. OJ Haugen had one and center Zach Gima had two (2 converted, 1 miss). In the final ten minutes at 33-28, the Trojans lost a penalty and conceded one final try to put the win out of reach. Final score was 38-28. Game readiness, consistency, and urgency are pointers that the team will practice on for USD next week.

USC Stomped by a strong side from Long Beach

Cameron Streeter reaches out for the tackle

Cameron Streeter reaches out for the tackle

The Trojans were stunned by a strong Long Beach side. USC came out with a lackluster performance which consisted throughout the game. Two tries (unconverted) came from fly-half Joseph Krassenstein. Several previous injuries hurt the Trojans lineup. Final score was 49-10. A season farewell to flaker Cameron Streeter who will be studying abroad in Australia this semester.

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USC falls short to SBCC 17-14

2849958USC had a half-time score of 11-5 with a try scored by Joseph Krassenstein (not converted) and two penalty kicks by center Danny Del Bianco. A second half try by fly-half John Donnelly was wrongfully called back as the referee was not following the play. In the final ten minutes of the game, SBCC scored to be placed above the Trojans by 3. With minutes left on the clock Joseph Krassenstein attempted a drop goal which missed just left of the goal posts. John Akiba wins man of the match with several try saving tackles and hard runs.

USC wins preseason opener against Occidental College

USC won it’s season opener against Occidental College 41-27 played in Palos Verdes, CA.

Stefan Atz wins USC Men’s Rugby MVP Award

Stefan Atz breaking tackles

Stefan Atz breaking tackles

Stefan Atz, a study abroad student from Austria won the 2013 USC Trojan Rugby MVP award.

Other award recipients include:

  • MVP: Stefan Atz
  • Best Forward: Zach Timm
  • Best Backs: Haico Kaashoek and Joseph Krassenstein
  • MIP: Daniel Campbell

USC Finishes Season 6th in SCRFU College Div. 1

The USC Men’s Trojan Rugby Team finished their season with 2 wins and 5 loses. A big improvement from the past couple years. The Trojans hope to continue their improvement in the 2013-2014 season starting out with rugby 7’s in the fall.

UCS loses to CSU Long Beach- February 23, 2013

USC got destroyed by Long Beach State University. The opposing team beat USC with speed, size, and fitness. USC finally scored in the final minutes of the game with a quick skip pass to winger Haico Kaashoek. The final score was LBSU 74- USC 5.

USC loses to CSU Fullerton

USC put up a tough fight against the CSU Fullerton. USC put the first try on the board with a strong run by outside center Steve Zhou. The early morning start contributed to players being half-asleep and allowing Fullerton to come out and score several tries early on. In the second half USC was able to score two more tries however still fell short to Fullerton. The final score was 33 CSUF- 17 USC

USC attends the USA Las Vegas Rugby 7’s

2725654Some members of the USC Men’s Rugby Club hit up the USA Las Vegas Rugby 7’s this past weekend (Feb 9 & 10).

Truly a great weekend of watching the pros play and team bonding.

South Africa beat New Zealand 40-21 in the Cup Final.

USC Rugby welcomes Tevita Vaikona to the Coaching Staff

Tevita Vaikona

Tevita Vaikona

The USC Men’s Rugby Club is honored to have former professional rugby (league and union) player, Tevita Vaikona to the coaching staff.

Tevita’s career highlights include:

  • 1995 Rugby League World Cup- Selected by Tonga
  • 2000 Rugby League World Cup- Tonga’s top try scorer
  • HULL FC, English Super League- 1994 – 1997
  • Bradford Bulls, English Super League – 1997 – 2004 Super League Champions Four Times, World Club Champions Twice
  • Middlesex Winner 2003
  • Saracen RUFC, English Premiership- 2004-2007
  • Racing Metro RUFC, Paris, France- 2007 – 2008

USC beats UC Irvine 24-14- Feb. 2, 2013

Sophomore Danny Del Bianco scored 2 tries

Sophomore Danny Del Bianco scored 2 tries

USC Men’s Rugby kicked off on Saturday at McAlister field against UC Irvine. USC entered the game with a chip on their shoulder after having lost to the Anteaters 43-7 last year.

Minutes into the game sophomore center, Joseph Krassenstein received a skip pass where he sprinted and juked the UCI opponent for the games opening points. Just before half-time sophomore winger, Haico Kaashoek kicked in a penalty making the score USC 10-UCI 0.In the second half, sophomore center Danny Del Bianco picked up a loose ball that was run in for a try. UCI scored two tries later on in the second half. Del Bianco later scored a second try after he shaked and baked through almost 5 opposing players.

The score going into the final ten minutes was USC 24-UCI 14. USC held out a strong UCI attack going into the closing minutes of the game.

Man of the match went to Del Bianco.

USC loses to SBCC 44-21- Jan. 26, 2013

USC lost a tough caught battle against Santa Barbara City College. The half time score was 19-14 before SBCC took over in the second half.

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27580_1We are proud of USC Rugby Player John Akiba who played during the USC-CAL Game. He averaged 5.3 yards on 4 carries.

us-navy-seals-logoLate in the 2011 preseason, the USC Rugby Team made its way south for an afternoon of Navy Seals training at the Amphibious Base in Coronado, California. After some initial remarks and military outfitting, we hit the beach for team-building exercises designed to push our physical and mental limits. Our Naval instructors wasted no time breaking the team in. Within minutes we were doused in sea-water and covered from head to toe in sand, enthusiastically executing barked commands for dune-sprints and push-ups.

These would continue throughout the day. Dividing the team into units, our instructors then led us through a number of inter-squad races. While some competitions took the form of relays, like individual tire flips, the majority of events focused on teamwork. Log crunches, log carries, log pushes, and team tunnel-crawls demanded that no team member exert less than full effort.

Though physically and mentally spent, we finished the day in high spirits and with a much-needed cold shower. USC Rugby drove back to LA – a fitter, stronger, and more cohesive unit. We were grateful for the rewarding experience and remember it fondly.