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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Big Green athletes train at Olympic center in San Diego

1.25.13.sports.rugby_Tracy Wang
1.25.13.sports.rugby_Tracy Wang

The sophomore rugby fullback and former Dartmouth football running back, respectively, were chosen by coach Alexander Magleby '00 with the hope of increasing the number of candidates in the U.S. Olympic rugby pool.

Schwieger, who left the camp last week, set the Big Green's all-time rushing record with 3,150 yards and was the co-recipient of the Bushnell Cup, an annual award given to the Ivy League's most valuable player.

Hughes has a more traditional rugby background: with multiple national rugby titles already under his belt, Hughes was lauded as an all-time leading scorer on the Junior All-Americans team at the 2012 Junior World Rugby Championship in Utah.

At the training center, Hughes and Schwieger follow an intense training program, including weight-lifting, multiple training sessions a day and skills analysis.

Unlike other athletes who usually returned home after a day of training, both Schwieger and Hughes were provided with housing so that they could have a complete and immersive experience.

"It is very much like a typical training camp," Schwieger said. "Rugby is a lot like football with its formations and strategies."

Hughes said that his time at the center has been gratifying.

"I have been able to improve and refine parts of my game by training day in and day out with the best 15 players in the country," Hughes said.

Dartmouth rugby coach Gavin Hickie said that the center's program is especially strong.

"Hughes and Schwieger are basically living and breathing rugby," Hickie said. "It's a chance for them to see if they can cope in a professional environment and to compete with the best."

Despite Schwieger's lack of experience in rugby, Magleby said that his athletic prowess and achievements as a member of the Big Green football make him a natural choice for the Olympic training team.

"His expertise in football could carry over into rugby," Magleby said. "I brought him in to show him what it was like playing in a professional setting."

Magleby said that Hughes is a "triple threat" in his strengths in kicking, passing and striking.

"We are investing in [Hughes] because he has proven himself to be a powerful and skilled rugby player," Magleby said. "He has played really well so far."

Hughes said he has enjoyed his involvement with OTC so far.

"Here, I have a unique chance to improve as a player, which I could then apply to Dartmouth and help the team become better," he said. "Even though everyone wants to be the guy that puts on the jersey, everyone who plays rugby is working towards a common goal."

After two weeks, Schwieger left the program to return home to Boston and pursue a career in construction management.

"It was a tough decision to leave because it was great to be out there with a good group of individuals who are so passionate about their sport," Schwieger said. "Although rugby is great, it didn't have the same spark that football had for me. My heart was back home in New England and I wanted closure on my athletic career."

Meanwhile, being a part of the team training at the center may provide Hughes with more opportunities to advance his rugby career.

"Beyond being top picks to be a part of the US Olympic rugby team, most people coming out of the program join a professional circuit within the International Rugby Board," Magleby said. "[Hughes] is here to learn what the level and the Olympic culture is. He definitely has the capability to go all the way."

Hughes' career rugby goal is to make the national Eagles team but, for now, he is looking forward to playing for the Falcons at the Las Vegas Invitational in February and then returning to campus in the spring and joining the Dartmouth Rugby team for their Ireland tour in March.

"[Hughes] is an instrumental part of the rugby team," Hickie said. "We're really looking forward to having him play again in the spring term."