The Tampa Bay Rugby Examiner had the chance to interview USA Rugby Falcons’ forward Ben Pinkelman Thursday evening about his opportunity to participate in this weekend’s 2015 Halloween Rugby Sevens Elite International Invitational Tournament. The tournament takes place this Saturday Oct. 31 and Sunday, Nov. 1, at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Ben Pinkelman interview with the Tampa Bay Rugby Examiner
Brian Cole: What got you interested in Rugby?
Ben Pinkelman: I had to play a spring sport because I was annoying my mom and she wanted me out of the house. I didn’t like track so I went to my first rugby practice with no idea how to play the game and fell in love with it.
BC: How long have you played Rugby?
BP: This will be my 8th year.
BC: Have you played other forms of the Rugby game other than Sevens?
BP: I have played 15’s.
BC: How long have you been with your current team/club?
BP: I have played with the Denver Barbarians sevens team every summer since I graduated high school and play with Colorado State University during the school year. This was our first week together as a team for the falcons that will play in the Halloween sevens and some of the guys I have played with or against in the past and some I just met.
BC: How would you describe the bond between the teammates within your organization, given the nature of Rugby teams often resembling larger families?
BP: Even though we have only been together a week we have bonded really quickly and that is easy to do when you get a group of guys together working really hard to achieve the same goal. On the field the bond has been a mentor bond with the experienced guys leading the way and helping the newer guys. Off the field we’ve been playing a lot of madden and ping pong against each other and having a great time.
BC: How many days/hours per practice day do you train specifically for Rugby Sevens each week?
BP: When I am at Colorado State I’ll have a 2 hour practice session with either the Barbarians or Colorado State 4 days a week and a lifting/conditioning session that takes around 2 hours, so in total it’s about 16 hours a week of training.
BC: In what other types of conditioning, strength-training, and agilities exercises do you participate to stay in shape, and how many days a week are you involved in this training?
BP: We do lots of Olympic lifts for strength and power. For conditioning, besides playing rugby, I do a lot of work on the stationary bike and row machine in the gym. For agility we work on sprint technique, even though mine is pretty poor.
BC: How much would it mean for you and your club to play for the Rugby Sevens Gold in Rio next year?
BP: Growing up in America you don’t learn much about rugby but you know about the Olympics. It is the ultimate test for every athlete to get there and to achieve success at that level. It would mean everything to play for the gold medal, its hard to match the amount of emotion and energy you have when representing your country and to do it at that level would be incredible.
Links to more information about the Halloween 7s Tournament
For more information on this weekend’s 2015 Halloween Rugby Sevens Elite International Invitational Tournament, organized by American Rugby Sevens, please visit the tournament’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.