YONGSAN GARRISON — The Seoul Survivors are the 2003 Combined Services Korea Rugby Association champions.

The team, comprised of civilians and servicemembers, won all seven games this season and defeated Osan Air Base 54-14 Sunday in the end-of-season awards tournament.

Camp Casey defeated Camp Humphreys 14-5 for a third-place finish.

Joe Day, an expatriat Englishman who organized the tournament and refereed some of the games, praised the military personnel play.

“Since we formed the league five years ago,” he said, “it has become clear that not only has Survivors rugby improved because they play regularly but very clearly the quality of the military rugby has improved.”

Day said before the league was formed, games were played sporadically but the quality of the rugby depended on a few players with experience in the United States.

“With the regular fixtures it has given guys who are playing for the first time here a chance to improve," he said.

Osan’s Senior Airman Carlos De Castro Pretelt said he had always wanted to play rugby but lacked the chance before coming to Korea.

“My favorite part is hitting people in the tackles and seeing how many people it takes to stop me,” he said.

Sgt. 1st Class David Clark, Camp Casey coach and captain, said an exercise kept several regular players from Sunday’s tournament but the less experienced players did well.

Clark encouraged anyone interested in contact sport to play rugby, saying, “There are probably more ruggers out there. It is just getting the word out that we have a team.

“Rugby encompasses all the warrior ethos — the esprit de corps, the aggression, physical fitness, and teamwork,” he said.

The Camp Humphreys rugby captain, Maj. Jim Geracci, said many players came to the game from flag football.

“Their units won’t let them play tackle football but say rugby is OK. They love to run. Their season ended and they saw the chance to play a new sport," he said.

“Our three fastest backs just came out of flag football, played their first game of rugby. They scored two or three tries [touchdowns] apiece and they are hooked.”

Rugby continues throughout winter; an all-Korea team will travel to the United States this spring to play in the Military National Rugby Tournament.

Anyone who wants to play rugby should contact Joe Day at

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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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