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Saint Thomas Aquinas rugby team ready to watch Chiefs' newest weapon Louis Rees-Zammit

St. Thomas Aquinas Rugby
Posted at 1:32 PM, Apr 06, 2024

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — It's a question that has sparked debate for years: which is the tougher sport, football or rugby?

"Physically, rugby. It's really taxing on my body. The amount of games we play also. Just in a short season, you're playing two a weekend for the whole season and you're just getting your body beat and it's not really stopping like football," said Owen Charlton, Saint Thomas Aquinas senior rugby player.

Charlton's teammates would agree with that statement.

"You don't see football players icing as much, recovering as much as rugby players do," said Zach Eller, Saint Thomas Aquinas senior rugby player.

There is one thing everyone can agree on. The two are both contact sports, but still have their differences.

"In football, you have a scripted play, and everybody has to do their job," said Tim Kluempers, Saint Thomas Aquinas head rugby coach. "In rugby, we have an idea of what we want to do, but if the defense doesn't cooperate, then we do what they give us."

Football has roots in rugby, but the sport has evolved over time.

Kluempers is a former U.S. National Team head coach. You could say Kluempers is to the Saints what Andy Reid is to the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Coach Kluempers is an inspiration of mine, he's a great guy and I think our whole program and school is just lucky to have the guy," Charlton said.

Since the start of the Saints' rugby team in 2007, they have won 14 of the last 15 Kansas state rugby titles. Aquinas has also won a National Championship in 2017.

Stacking up the titles just like the Chiefs, who have recently signed a former rugby player as Kansas City looks to complete a three-peat.

"It's very exciting, especially because he's a young guy and his dream is to play football, but he's an amazing rugby player," Charlton said. "I've watched him play."

Former winger, Louis Rees-Zammit will be Patrick Mahomes' newest weapon.

"Andy Reid's a great coach, he'll know what to do with him," Ellner said.

Making the transition from rugby to football is much easier than doing it the other way around and according to Kluempers, Rees-Zammit will be just fine.

"He's a great athlete and I know he's working really hard and wants to do it and he's got the toughness and the tenacity," Kluempers said.

The Chiefs' move is helping shine a spotlight on rugby. This season, the Saints have over 60 players on the rugby team, and that number is only expected to grow.