Meet the UoL Raptors: the nice guys of uni sports
They go for ice cream and beers with their rivals
American Football is a bit of an enigma to Brits.
Most people see it as ‘Rugby for casuals’, or ask, why all the pads and armour? The Tab has got together with the University of Liverpool Raptors to find out if they live up to this ‘fake rugby’ reputation , or if there’s more to the boys in bulky blue.
First off, we went to watching the Varsity match against LJMU Fury. ‘Fury’ are the Northern Champions of their division and have a few players in the GB team (yes, there is an American Football Great Britain team). Terrifying stuff for the Raptors.
It might seem confusing at first, but once the rules are explained to you, it’s easier to be drawn into the tense, messy, nail-biting display on the pitch. It was a close game but LJMU grabbed it in the last minute with a touchdown to put the score to 33 – 26.
You know what’s really great about these lads? Their attitudes before and after the game. There was no foul play, no violent disputes. And afterwards? How do you react to your local rivals after a match? Gloating and showboating? Getting rowdy? Throwing insults?
Not the American Football players: they congratulated each other, had a dance off (there’s a video on facebook if you think I’m bullshitting), and then went to grab an ice cream and a beer and check out the other varsity games. Boss.
After the match, we spoke to some of the players. Linebacker Will Girt told us about how the Raptors started: “The society has only just been established but we’ve built a strong base and created a core based around pushing ourselves and having fun”.
Quaterback Callum Harris addressed the whole ‘why don’t you just play rugby’ question: “I played Rugby before university but I prefer the tactics behind each play in American football and how can you get a whole playbook of different things to run in game. I find it more challenging and fun. They seem like the same game if you take it at face value but in reality they’re worlds apart.”
Despite being robbed at Varsity by LJMU Fury the Raptors spirits weren’t diminished and went on to celebrate their season with all the fun and furore of any other sports team. When I turned up for their social only knowing a few of the lads, they nicknamed me “Tab” to make things easier. Even better, these boys aren’t about hierarchy and elitism like other teams: everything was very lax and friendly. Even the coaches are seen as equals; one of them kipped on a freshers couch after a night out.
Quarterback Callum Harris told us: “Everyone has a good time. At our awards night we all had a 3 course meal in suits and went to town. The quaterback coach got so drunk he forgot where he lived and had to crash at a freshers”. Legend.
Our night out with the Raptors wasn’t anything like you’d expect on a AU night with sport lads. Hazing freshers? Rape humour? Naked wrestling? Shaming people who weren’t jack the lad? There were none of these stereotypes: there wasn’t even a single shout of “Down it fresher!”. A couple of drinking games were played, embarrassing stories were told and everyone had a good old laugh. If you didn’t want to drink you didn’t have to: one of the players told us that he’d never drunk alcohol in his life.
The Social secs made sure everyone was looked after, no man was left behind and everyone got to the guild in one shape.
So why join American Football society? First off, they say that anyone can play: like rugby there’s no “correct body type”. Secondly, there’s no elitism or an “us and them” mentality between senior and fresher players or first team and reserve players. No piss drinking, no misogyny (girls can join if they want) and none of the shit that uni sports teams are notoriously known for.
Still don’t fancy it? Callum Harris also told us about their awards night : “Our awards night was good. We had proper prizes for mvps of the seasons but every player also got a wooden spoon with an award that they’d won written on it, for other stuff they did during the season like as Mr Nice guy or Best Drop”.
So there you go – the UOL Raptors. The nice guys of the sporting world.
Think your sports team is better? Email [email protected] if you want us to try your society or sports team.