Player Profile: Austin Lucas
1. How many years have you been playing rugby?
I started playing spring semester my senior year in college, so about 7 years on and off with eligibility issues sprinkled in.
2. What other Clubs have you played for?
Old Dominion, Villanova, Schuylkill River and a summer with South Jersey.
3. What’s your proudest rugby moment so far?
Probably when Villanova was in the 2013 CRC’s (much to the chagrin of our Drexel teammates). I had a try-saving tackle against UCLA’s Grant Penney followed shortly by busting my eye, my bloody face up on the jumbotron, and getting stiches between matches.
4. What do you hope to accomplish in your rugby career moving forward?
Right now all I want to do is get back to playing after this ACL injury. I loved playing with D1 and feeling like I was playing my best rugby so I just want to get back to 100%.
5. You went to Ireland with Schuylkill in 2016 and are set to go to South Africa with us next month. What was your favorite part of the last trip and what are you most looking forward to for this trip?
My favorite part was probably Ben Rivell offering to marry a girl working at a club and bring her to America. Close second would be Cat Stevens’s vocals on the bus. For South Africa, I am just excited to experience another culture and watch the rest of you practice while hungover.
6. You played a big role in helping to establish “Friendship Rugby” a couple years ago at our match against Happy Valley, tell everyone what that was all about.
Right before our match that day was a women’s game and when they huddled up, they chanted “1, 2, 3, Friendship!” and we thought it was a very interesting way to get hyped for a match. So it became an ironic chant for D3 after that. We wouldn’t do it pre-game but it was a great thing to say after winning and heading to a drink-up. Then after our end-of-year meeting and we realized we needed to improve our social front as a club, I decided a “Friendship Rugby” facebook group was the solution. It has really taken on a life of its own at this point and kind of represents anything fun we do off the pitch.
7. Since that time you’ve taken on the role of Social Chair and done a lot to make sure that guys have opportunities to spend time together off the field. How do you feel that relationship-building amongst the players helps us develop a stronger Club culture?
Having Friendship Rugby really helps all the players get to know each other, new and old. That obviously has an impact for when you are training and playing together. Also, it simply makes rugby an even bigger part of your life. When you are not dedicating time to practice or games, you still find yourself spending your free time with teammates. I honestly do not understand how normal people make friends at all if they aren’t on a rugby club together.
8. When you first joined Schuylkill you started out playing for the second side (Troop) before moving up to the D1 side (Exiles). How did our Club’s structure, with multiple sides in league play, help you refine your game and prepare you to make the jump?
Training with guys with various degrees of skill and knowledge is crucial to improving your own game. Our club has multiple divisions but we do everything as one team so you’re getting great experience competing with the best and learning the game. Also, for me, I feel the coaches are always open to giving a player a chance and testing them at the higher level, so I tried to make the best of my opportunities.
9. Speaking of making the jump to D1, and I’m only mentioning this because you’ve gone on to become a regular D1 starter, on your first play as a D1 player you jumped up to contest a kickoff and the referee yellow carded you for taking an opponent out of the air. There was under 10 minutes left in the match so that was it as far as your debut went. How does it feel to almost certainly hold the record for quickest yellow card, and shortest debut, in our history?
I am the Moonlight Graham of Schuylkill River. It also sucked a bit more that it was a road game. Luckily I can laugh at it now since I had a 2nd chance.
10. You provide a lot of positional flexibility for us by being able to play flanker or hooker. Which position do you prefer to play and how do you use your athleticism to your advantage as a somewhat undersized front row?
No one would ever choose hooker over flanker. No one. But once the scrum breaks, we’re all just playing rugby so I just love being out there. Somewhat undersized? That’s a nice way of putting it. But being hoisted up besides players like Lucas, Sweetheart, Pond, etc. really allows me to just fully commit at any chance to steal a feed, knowing they are doing all the hard work.
11. What’s on your pregame playlist?
I hate pregame. Just nerves and tension waiting for the game. So I don’t listen to anything. I just try and chill out and talk to my friends before kickoff. But whenever I do need to get hyped, it’s KISS and DMX for me.
12. Everyone who gets interviewed is asked for cheesesteak recommendations. What are some of yours?
I gotta go Steve’s Prince of Steaks (16th & Chestnut). Get some of that double meat and wiz.
13. I’ve noticed that professional wrestling is big for you. What would you pro wrestling name and finishing move be?
Yeah my dad loved wrestling and used to compete himself (hence my usual gameday tank top with him flexing). Well sadly Stone Cold Steve Austin is already taken, so I don’t know what I’d do for a name but my finisher would definitely be the greatest submission move of all time, the figure 4 leg lock courtesy of the Nature Boy Ric Flair.
14. What is an interesting fact about you that your teammates would be surprised to hear?
Well most of them have probably heard this because it is the only interesting fact I can ever come up with, but I know all the Oscar Best Pictures since 1968. It’s kinda my thing.
15. We have 5 Villanova alumni on the team (4 law school, 1 undergrad) that I’m aware of. Since Villanova is so well known for its basketball team give me your 5 favorite players of all time.
I’d have to go Rudy Gay, Scottie Reynolds, and Kris Jenkins (purely for that shot). But since I am more of a football guy, I’ll shout out Brian Westbrook and my brother Dillon Lucas who played linebacker for Nova. [Editor’s note, Rudy Gay went to UConn, what the hell Austin? You really are more of a football guy, get it together…]
16. Aside from the South Africa trip, what are you most looking forward to for our Club this upcoming spring?
Home matches. With this injury I am forced to watch from the sidelines and we were mainly on the road in the fall so it sucked travelling only to watch. So I am excited that we will be making this playoff push on our home pitch.
17. You’ve requested in the past that we start using more nicknames in our Club and I’ve tried to work some into the match reports. Can I get 5 new, audience of all ages appropriate, official Austin Lucas approved nicknames for use this spring season?
I refuse to call anyone by their real name so I approve of this initiative. I mean, Brad Selman is saved in my phone as Thor Selman and I introduced Ryan McHugh to my mom via his nicname. How about seven layer bean Dip for Dipin George? Joe Midwig cut his beautiful locks recently, so now he can be Joey NoWig. Kyle King tried to make Taz stick for me. Speaking of King, I think we should all agree to just call him Prince. And if I may, I want to officially denounce one nickname, Brian Taylor as Jackhammer. He likes that nickname way too much.
18. Our club has strong Philadelphia roots. As a big time Eagles fan living in the city what did it mean to you, and what did it mean to the city to finally see the birds win the super bowl and what did you do for the parade?
It means that we can all die happy now. I still feel like it hasn’t really set in that the Eagles are objectively the greatest football team in the world right now, but maybe after proclaiming it non-stop for the next year it will sink in. I was on the north side of the parkway at 21st street with my brother, mom, cousins, friends, and our teammate Dave Gross. We had a good corner spot to see the parade and the jumbotron for the Superbowl replay and speeches.
19. The last time you and I spoke in person was at a fundraiser for the North Philadelphia Nomads high school rugby team and the time before that you were planning an upcoming opportunity for Schuylkill to visit a local children’s hospital. What motivates you to help use rugby as a way to give back to the community and how do you feel the response from the Club has been?
Every single person I mentioned the hospital visit to was pumped and excited. The Club never fails to seize an opportunity to help whether it be for each other, the youth, or the community at large. Whenever we can incorporate rugby into those efforts is just a boon, because we obviously all love the game and hope that others will to when introduced to it.
20. What does Philadelphia rugby mean to you and how do you try to embody those principles?
Anything Philly, you think gritty. Big hits and tough wins. But really, I think that Philadelphia rugby is an all-encompassing lifestyle. You don’t just play rugby on Saturdays and train a few hours a week. You hang out with teammates, go to Brolita’s with teammates, go on vacation with teammates, you live with teammates. Schuylkill River becomes a huge part of your life and I love that and try and add to that.