WMBD/WYZZ-TV - MORTON, Ill. -- Ask a player to describe rugby and you'll get an interesting response.
"I tell them it's football with no pads," said Zach Menefee of the Peoria Renegades. "It's football,
soccer, basketball -- throw it all together and it's rugby."
Menefee, a student of Limestone High School, plays on a team mainly comprised of players from Peoria. Rugby is a high school club sport catching on in central Illinois.
Particularly with players looking to stay in shape for contact sports later in the year.
"I started last year," said Bloomington Central Catholic senior Sam Sherwood. "I wanted to get better at tackling so I joined. A lot of the guys are football players used to contact sports."
Sherwood plays with the Twin City Tornados. And many of his teammates share his feeling about playing rugby to stay in shape for football.
"We want to stay in shape," said Seth Emmert of the Twin City Tornados. "Playing 35-minute halves, straight, non-stop, up and down running. It's good for conditioning, speed. A little bit of everything."
Emmert attends Normal West. Rugby teams in central Illinois are made up of players from different high schools.
Rugby teammates could play football against each other in the fall. But they have a common goal on rugby fields in the spring.
"Guys want to stay in shape for football," said Menefee. "Coaches all say to run track but I'm not sure how running track keeps you in shape for football."