The Runner Sports

USA Club Rugby Profile: Casey Hansen, Bremer County Bucks Club President/SUITS & Stars Rugby Player

The USA Club Rugby 2017 fall season is nearly here with most schedules currently going through final touches, but if recent history is any indication, Bremer County club president, Casey Hansen, will be taking the pitch with his fellow Bucks in just a few weeks.

To call Casey Hansen a dedicated rugger is a severe understatement; 15s and 7s player for Bremer County, Sevens United Iowa Travel Squad (SUITS), and Stars Rugby as well as high school coach for the 2017 Iowa State High School Champion Waverly Shell Rock not only fills Casey’s resume, but his calendar.

I had an opportunity to catch up with Hansen and talk to the man himself before the 15s season gets rolling.

Jason Graves: Tell us a bit about yourself and when you discovered rugby?

Casey Hansen: I’m married and a dad to three little boys. I’ve been the President of Bremer County Bucks Rugby Club for the past six years. I always knew about rugby however, did not play until after I graduated high school. I was approached by a former “old boy,” about playing in a 7s tournament and the rest is history.

 

Graves: You play 15s and 7s as well as coach; what is it about rugby that’s got you so ingrained in the game?

Hansen: It is the epitome of team sport; I love all aspects of the game. The competition, intensity, strategy, and camaraderie it entails.

 

Graves: Who are your rugby influences as a player and coach?

Hansen: I’d like to think everyone I’ve played with or against has influenced me in some way. If someone excels at a particular skill (running hard, passing, kicking, etc.) I want to know how they do.

 

Graves: Is there a player out there the country needs to know about but don’t?

Hansen: I’m sure there are many up and coming players across the nation we need to know about but don’t. More of a reason to grow the game and get rugby out into the mainstream.

 

Graves: Congratulations on the Western Conference Championship; I know the season didn’t end like you wanted but what was this season’s run like?

Hansen: Winning the Western Conference Championship was great for the third year in a row; the Midwest Championship the past two years and making it to the National Championship. The season was a lot of traveling, hard work, fun, and extremely gratifying.

 

Graves: For those who don’t know…what’s the DIII rugby experience like?

Hansen: Variable ages of players and experience levels. It’s “grassroots rugby,” there is little scouting information on most teams, so you just have to show up and adjust on the fly.

 

Graves: How do you train to go from 15s to 7s and back again?

Hansen: We have team practice weekly, I help run drills with my high school players, and condition when time allows.

 

Graves: You play for Sevens United Iowa Travel Squad, how long have you been with SUITS and who do you play against?

Hansen: I have played for SUITS the two years it has been in existence. We currently play open division across the Midwest, but hope to break into the competitive division soon.

 

Graves: What’s the selection process for SUITS?

Hansen: There are three different try-outs throughout the state.

 

Graves: Stars 7s and 15s, you are simply devoted to rugby; what’s the environment like in the Stars system?

Hansen: It’s an intense, high-caliber rugby, against great competition. It’s a great experience to grow as a person and player.

 

Graves: Congratulations on Waverly Shell Rock High School Rugby winning the 2017 Iowa State Championship; what has prepared you the most for coaching rugby?

Hansen: Playing higher levels of rugby and being coached by likes of Vaha Esikia, Julius Togamau Fanueli, and Joe Lippert.

 

Graves: What’s the overall rugby environment like in Iowa, do you run across many rugby fans?

Hansen: Iowa is very receptive to rugby in the areas it is known. Once people become exposed to it they become life long loyal fans.

 

Graves: What is your biggest recruiting obstacles in club and high school?

Hansen: Club; getting people to commit time. High School; convincing high school administration and burying old rugby stereotypes.

 

Graves: How do you overcome them?

Hansen: Believing in what I’m trying to do and persistence.

 

Graves: With Major League Rugby and Super 7s launching next season, which do you think has a better chance of capturing the US sports fan and why?
 
Hansen: Major League Rugby I think has a better chance of capturing the US sports fan because rugby fans have been waiting for professional rugby in the US.

 

Graves: You have such extensive rugby experience, what advice would you give a developing player and coach?

Hansen: Persistence, dedication, willing to go above and beyond for the sport, and go outside of yourself to improve and be better than the next guy.

 

Graves: What is rugby in the US getting right?

Hansen: Continuing grass-root efforts, developmental paths, and continuing to grow the game.

 

Graves: What would you like to fix about rugby in the US?

Hansen: Increase awareness and accessibility across the board [both] men [and]) women.

 

Graves: Do you have any ideas about bridging the distance gap in our spread out nation?

Hansen: Developing more teams, maintaining older clubs, reducing travel, and working to retain players.

 

Graves: Finally, is there anything you want the country to know about THE Casey Hansen?

Hansen: If you like/love rugby, tell everyone from a 5-year-old kid to your great-grandparents, the more people that know about this amazing game the more people will follow and grow it….also if you see me around say “Hi,” and let’s grab a beer! Cheers!

 

-By Jason Graves