by KEN NICHOLSON
Daniel Bullock, a senior majoring in communication and digital studies stands with confidence and hard work when speaking on the world of rugby. Having begun his rugby journey in middle school at 12 years old, Bullock’s passion for the sport has done nothing but intensify over the years.
While rugby has always been a vital part of Bullock’s life, it wasn’t his initial choice when entering the world of sports. Football took precedence during his formative years, with rugby following alongside it.
Reflecting on his early memories and experiences, Bullock talked about the similarities between football and rugby.
“The transition over wasn’t that hard because rugby is kind of similar in a way,” said Bullock. “I played both in middle and high school but went with rugby in college.”
Choosing rugby over football in college wasn’t a matter of preference for Bullock; it was a strategic decision based on the many opportunities that presented themselves at the university level.
“I was given an opportunity at more and better money here at UMW and a chance to switch it up when it came to sports. I didn’t know any of the opportunities it could give me until they came to me,” said Bullock, shedding light on the unseen benefits that unfolded in his collegiate rugby career. He went into rugby being confident in what would come out of the experience.
Bullock is in his fourth year of playing the 8-man position. According to Rugby Pass, this player “is responsible for putting in big tackles, carrying the ball through the defensive line and providing support to the backs.”
This also means he controls and directs the forwards from behind in the scrum, which is a contest used to restart a play that consists of 8 players from each team. In a scrum, the number 8 may extract the ball from the back of the scrum using their hands, and they are the only forward players allowed to do so.
Through this position, Bullock has seen significant growth in his skills and his performance.
“I feel as if my rugby IQ has gone up tremendously over the years, especially in recent times,” he said. “As it increases, the flow of the game gets easier.”
This growth on the field has resulted in a surge of meaningful on and off-field connections, as rugby has provided Bullock with a tight-knit community through the brotherly connection he has formed with his teammates.
“The best way I can describe the rugby community is it’s like a brotherhood,” he said. “I love the guys and couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to hit the pitch with every Saturday.”
The official rugby season at Mary Washington kicks off before the fall semester begins, with practices starting in mid-August. This paves the way for a competitive season that spans from August to November during the fall semester and February to March in the spring semester. The team also plays numerous games both in and out of state.
In light of Bullock’s collegiate rugby journey coming to a close, he commented on the profound impact the sport has had on his life. He emphasized the amount of gratitude he has for the experiences and the friendships he has made both on and off the pitch.
“It’s been a great 4 years playing rugby. I learned so much about the game, and I just want to wish the guys the best of luck,” he said.
Bullock has one more semester left to showcase his talent on the pitch and create any last-minute memories with the teammates he may not see afterward.
As Bullock and his teammates prepare for their next game at Virginia Tech on Feb. 17, the climax of a season filled with hard work, camaraderie and personal growth is on the horizon. Whether on the pitch or beyond, Bullock’s journey through rugby serves as a testament to the transformative power of dedication and passion in the world of collegiate sports.