Touch rugby: Hood River club plays Tuesdays

All ages and abilities invited

The Hood River Hammers are far meaner in name than demeanor. But rugby is a tough sport, and every club needs a hard-hitting title, even if it’s a complete façade.

The Hammers have been playing once week for more than a year now and are looking for fresh meat to throw into the mix during the club’s Tuesday evening pickup games.

“The first thing people think is, ‘Rugby is way too rough for me,’” said Matt Sweeting, club founder. “But we play touch rugby, which is friendly for people of pretty much all ages and skill levels.”

The club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. (time for will change later in the fall) at the Port of Hood River green (near the DMV), while a longer-running club in Mosier plays Sundays, 3 p.m. at Mosier Community School.

“We’ll play all year, as long as there isn’t too much snow on the ground,” Sweeting said. “All you really need is a pair of cleats or running shoes. Touch rugby is safe and simple. It’s a great way of getting fit and having fun doing it. With so much to do here, it’s just another way of enjoying an active lifestyle in the Gorge.”

Following international touch rugby rules, games are non-tackle; instead players touch opponents using hands on any part of the body, clothing or ball. The game is also simplified significantly from its British-born counterpart, which keeps action flowing and gives even complete beginners a quick understanding of how to play.

“You just have to have basic hand-eye coordination and be in relatively good health,” said Sweeting, who has carried his love of the game overseas from his hometown in England. “We usually have a great mix of players; from people who have never played before to a couple who played pretty seriously in college.”

For those of appropriate age, the club generally follows games with a trip to its sponsor pub, The Pint Shack, for an obligatory pitcher or two of free beer.

For more info see the club’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hoodrivertouchrugby or contact Sweeting at mjdsweeting@gmail.com.

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