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VILSECK, Germany — After 15 months downrange, members of the Vilseck Dragoons Rugby Football Club are joining other U.S. military rugby teams in Europe to prepare for some bone-crunching action on the pitch.

The Dragoons kick off their season next weekend against Ulm, a German team that competes in the Bavarian Rugby League along with teams from Munich, Nuremberg and Regensburg.

Chief Warrant Officer Anthony Triola, who coached the Dragoons from 2007 until this week, said some of his players started training for the coming season while they were still in Iraq, where Vilseck’s 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment deployed from spring 2007 until late last year.

Triola said the Dragoons are looking forward to a 10-a-side tournament at Illesheim in May, which will see them clash with the Illesheim Black N Blue, a team made up mostly of members of the 12th Combat Aviation Regiment.

The Ramstein Rogues, a team that competes in the Rheinland-Pfalz league and includes airmen from Ramstein Air Base, has already played several games this season, according to the team’s Web site.

Triola said the Vilseck team practices Monday through Thursday starting at 4:30 p.m. at Dragoon Field, next to the former health clinic.

"New players are welcome," Triola said. "You really don’t have to have knowledge of rugby or to have played before. We have a lot of folks with years of knowledge playing and we can teach anybody."

Rugby is a highly social sport, he added.

"It is very community- and family-oriented. When we play we have support from the families and plenty of kids running around on the sidelines," he said.

On Thursday about a dozen team members, many of them members of Vilseck’s Samoan community, were at the field running through drills to practice "scrums" and "line-outs" — set scrimmages that are used to restart play after infringements during a game.

Anyone interested in playing for the Dragoons should contact Lt. Jake Balon at:jacob.j.balon@eur.army.mil.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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