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THE FELLOWSHIP OF RUGBY: The Orcs Head Into Inaugural Season

local rugby community grows as men’s rugby club hits the pitch

McKenna Scherer |

HERE COMES THE HORDE. The Chippewa Valley is now home to a men's rugby club – The Orcs – and the ranks are open for folks who want to get in on the action. (Submitted photos)
HERE COMES THE HORDE. The Chippewa Valley is now home to a men's rugby club – The Orcs, pictured in black jerseys – and the ranks are open for folks who want to get in on the action. (Submitted photos)

Fear not, Middle-Earthlings, these orcs come in peace – unless, of course, you’re on the other side of the pitch. The Orcs, the Chippewa Valley’s club men’s rugby team, got up and running quickly thanks to some former UW-Eau Claire players who missed the thrill of getting after it.

After playing rugby for the very first time at UWEC during his freshman year, Jonathan Tomasoski never shook his love for the game and the community it fostered. After playing throughout his college career and graduating, life had a way of bringing him right back to the local scene, this time as an assistant coach to the college club team.

After a stellar playoff run and nationals stint, Tomasoski couldn’t shake the feeling off: He missed being on the field himself. After mulling on the idea of starting up a men’s club team in the area, he bounced the idea off of two former teammates – Cale Christianson and Jordan Mason – who said they’d love to play again, too.

Within four months of the decision to commit, a name was chosen, a logo was created, recruitment efforts began, and a men’s rugby team took shape in the Chippewa Valley: The Orcs. 

“Rugby is awesome because everyone can touch the ball and get after it.”

JONATHAN Tomasoski

THE ORCS RUGBY CLUB PRESIDENT

“Our current team is made up of guys who have almost all played before so we understand that it’s really about camaraderie and good vibes,” Tomasoski said. “That’s the biggest party I enjoy. The running, playing, scoring is all fun, but it’s great to have a really good group of guys to have some beers with after practice and hang out with on the weekends.”

That sentiment rings true for the nearly 40 members of The Orcs. Thanks mostly to word-of-mouth and ties to UWEC’s rugby scene, it didn’t take long for guys who missed the game to join the new club. The Orcs are an official 501(c)3 nonprofit and are part of the Wisconsin Rugby Union, currently playing at the D4 level in the Minnesota League’s Western Conference, with hopes to earn D3 status after their inaugural season.

And if you find yourself stuck on the team name, thinking “Like ... From Lord of the Rings?” you’d be correct. The Orcs’ name stems from the cult favorite book series and its film adaptations, and fits well in the Rugby Union, where most team names also come from the mythological realm. 

The Orcs are made up of new-to-the-game and seasoned players, one of the main draws of the game, Tomasoski said. “Rugby isn’t a super popular sport as it is, thought it’s getting more popular at the college level,” he explained. “But it’s not super hard. You just have to get the hang of it and play a couple of times.”

He compared rugby gameplay to checkers. Learning the rules of the game is the main hurdle, and then each movement and action starts to flow like clockwork. “The biggest part is, regardless of size or previous athletic involvement, anyone can play and anyone is welcome,” Tomasoski said. “My best friend and I, we’re totally different builds, but we’re always next to each other on the pitch playing. Our smallest players too, you might think couldn’t lay hits, but they do and are super fast.”

“Rugby is awesome because everyone can touch the ball and get after it,” he said.

Practices will be held regularly from 5:30-7:30pm every Thursday beginning Aug. 15 until the end of the season, which will vary depending on playoffs, at Casper Park in Chippewa Falls (also the home field of the area’s women’s rugby club, The Vipers). There are currently two scheduled home games: Aug. 24 versus the Sioux Falls Crow and Sept. 28 versus St. Cloud.

The Orcs currently have nine community sponsors – Milwaukee Burger CO., Krische & Moertel Trial Attorneys, Swickmedia, Highland Fitness, General Coin & Gun Exchange, Do Dodge Inn, Bruflat Chiropractic, Big Papa BBQ, and Wigwam Tavern – and invite other local businesses to join the horde.


Keep up with The Orcs on Facebook and Instagram • Sign up to join by filling out this online form • Reach out with questions at orcsrugby2023@gmail.com