by Jason Graves
For eight season rugby in the US has had a silent success that deserves more attention and more support, the Women’s Premier League (WPL) which is a collection of eight clubs spanning the country. The Twin Cities Amazons are one of these teams, a founding club and 2013 WPL Champions, led by head coach Roger Bruggemeyer whose been involved with the Amazons for 33 years.
Coach Bruggemeyer took time away from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about the Amazons and rugby in Minnesota.
Rugby Nation USA (RN): Thank you for your time Coach. Where and when were you introduced to rugby?
Roger Bruggemeyer (RB): I started playing in college at a small university in Minnesota.
RN: What is your coaching/playing background?
RB: I played competitively until I was 44. I started coaching in 1983 and have been coaching since.
RN: What made you decide to become a coach?
RB: Growing up in Minnesota we all played hockey, I started helping out the coaches with the younger players in our town. I liked coaching the kids and at that time, I naively thought I was good at it. So I guess it was a natural evolution to start coaching rugby.
RN: What is your attack philosophy?
RB: Depends on the players I have and the team we are playing. I would hope, as coaches, we have taught our players different ways to succeed. So if we need to play fast or slow, inside or outside, the players are able to adapt.
RN: What is your defensive style?
RB: My teams try to focus on defense. Defense is hard work and if your team is working hard, good things usually happen. I prefer to be aggressive, but like the attacking philosophy, your players need to understand when to adjust to the other team.
RN: What aspect of the game challenges you the most?
RB: Teaching that defensive play is more important and just as fun as offense.
RN: What are some of the challenges you face as a club coach?
RB: I think the hardest thing as a senior club coach is teaching the players how to be team players and good teammates. Also getting enough quality games for the players.
RN: How do you assess talent/recruit players in your area?
RB: I have always been pretty good at judging talent, but it takes time, I try not to make quick decisions on any player, good or bad. I do this by watching the player at all times, near the ball and away. What a player does away from the ball says a lot about them. The recruiting on our team is done entirely by our players. I am involved in the Minnesota U-23 selects. I personally think it is unethical to use a select position to recruit players. It could put pressure on young players to chose what team to play for and I just don’t think that is fair to players.
RN: I’ve read your club is active in the local schools; what’s the rugby scene like in Minneapolis/St. Paul?
RB: Rugby in the Twin Cities and Minnesota is strong because of the many quality people at all levels of the game. It may surprise some people, but Minnesota teams have quite a few National championships in the last couple of years.
RN: What are some of the challenges you face in the WPL?
RB: Lack of support by the National coaches and the Eagle program in general. The lack of quality games.
RN: What changes would you like to see implemented with the WPL?
RB: Longer season and more games. We need more games, we play fewer games then the other nations and it shows.
RN: What changes would you like to see made to the club rugby structure?
RB: I would like to see more games.
RN: Who are some of your players you’d like to highlight?
RB: There are to many players to highlight and it is a team game. I would like to highlight the asst coaches, the unsung heroes of any team, Terese Taylor, Kim O’Brien, Amanda Kingzett and Chris Miskec.
RN: What was your biggest successes this season with Twin Cities?
RB: We were in the top 4 teams in the WPL this season. This allows you a shot at the championship, which is always the goal.
RN: Is there anything else you want readers to know about the Amazons?
RB: The Amazons are celebrating their 35th anniversary this year.
RN: I know you’re proud to be the Amazon coach but everyone has their dream job, what’s yours?
RB: I have been lucky to coach at many levels in my life. So I am not looking for anything else, but I would love to coach the Midwest U-23’s women’s team, if given the chance.
RN: Finally Coach, anything you’d like people to know about you?
RB: I am the most proud of the fact of how many Amazons have gone on to become accomplished coaches. Amy Rusert (Air Force Academy), Rebecca Radtke (Univ of Mn), Tammy Cowan (St John’s Univ) to name just a few of the many. I would like to think that I have contributed in some small way to their success. What more could you ask for in your career?
Rugby is all inclusive, our women’s Eagles are 1991 Rugby World Cup champions, approximately 15,860 (2014) adult women are registered players…that’s more than any country in the world…and yet every program is second to the men. Equality is a cornerstone of rugby and it’s time our women deserve it.
I would like to thank Coach Bruggemeyer for his time and congratulate the Twin Cities Amazons for 35 years of rugby!
You can check out the past season of the WPL on The Rugby Channel and select Amazons matches on YouTube.
– Amazons vs D.C. Furries (9/15/16)