Originally created 07/25/99

Rugby players' readiness pays off



Tony Brooks' swan song was a wet one to remember.

The 38-year-old captain of the two-time defending Georgia Games champion Aliens -- a team from Atlanta made up mostly of Life University students -- retired from rugby on a day when the heat index reached 110 degrees at 3:30 p.m. at Evans High School.

"It's ... whoo-boy," said Brooks in his sweat-soaked jersey. "I'd say it's the hottest day in my 18-year rugby career, including living in Atlanta and South Florida."

Brooks, who is leaving the sport to further his career as a chiropractor, said his team was taking efficient measures to combat the heat. Preparation was the key, he said.

"We brought 35 gallons of water," he said. "We told guys to get hydrated a few days before. We're as ready for this as anybody."

Normally, rugby is played with 15 members on each team in two 40-minute halves. In the Georgia Games, though, the teams are cut to 10 men, and the halves are seven minutes each.

With the time-sliced games, the Georgia Games were able to squeeze in a tournament in one day, with teams playing a round-robin tournament before playoffs began.

"Obviously with this heat if you played 40-minutes halves, you wouldn't be able to play but one game," said. J.T. Ratusny, a backfielder for the Aliens. "It's just like cutting lawns. If you cut eight to 10, you're dead."

With running and tackling a constant, rugby is the most physically demanding sport in the Georgia Games, Brooks said. But even with it being in July -- rugby season is usually in the fall and spring -- Brooks said he wouldn't change the dates for next year's Georgia Games.

"Our rugby schedule, we plan it one year in advance," he said. "If you move it up a month, who's to say it won't be hot in June?"

Ratusny had a better plan.

"An idea kind of given to me was they should postpone the start time to 4 p.m. and finish up around 11 p.m.," he said.

While tents provided relief at Blanchard Stadium, event director Steve Toon said it could have been better.

"We were supposed to get misting fans but didn't," he said.

Chris Gay can be reached at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 114, or cag112@hotmail.com.