Broken bones, bruises, knocking heads, bloody brawls and crushing beer cans against heads are often mistakenly associated with the game of rugby.

But Lake Highlands resident Brad Sawyer, a member of Our Gang Rugby Club, paints a different picture of the sport.

“I thought it was a sport for ruffians,” says Sawyer, who played on the offensive line of the Lake Highlands High School football team until graduating in 1991.

But once he took up rugby after high school, he says he realized football is more violent than rugby, which he describes as a more gentlemanly sport.

“After a game, the guy who hit you is the first one to shake your hand,” Sawyer says.

Rugby is a big-time contact sport, but there are fewer injuries than most people expect, says Lake Highlands resident John Little, the chairman of the club.

The 20-year-old club is comprised of 50 members, and they play home games at Lake Highlands Park.

Team members are professionals who spend their weekdays working, but many of their Saturdays are allotted to rugby.

Many Lake Highlands residents are on the team’s roster, and the ages of members vary greatly, says Little, who is an attorney.

“Our oldest rookie to date was 38 – he’s still playing and he’s 50,” Little says.

Little didn’t start playing rugby until he was in law school.

“I knew rugby players in college, and I thought it was a silly game,” Little says.

But his sentiments changed as he found he missed the intense competition he had in high school and college sports. He found the spirit when he started playing rugby.

“It really burns the competitive fire in you,” Sawyer says. “It just gets in your blood.”

“It’s a great sport for fitness. If you can play reasonably at any level, you’re in good shape,” Little says.

The club competes with teams from throughout Texas and Louisiana and often travels for games.

By September, the team is booked for a game every Saturday through April.

The team continues to play sporadically throughout the summer to keep in shape.

Little loves the club not only for the rugby, but for the social aspects.

“It’s a fairly worldwide fraternity that is somewhat unknown in this country,” Little says. “You can walk into almost any English-speaking country and find a rugby club.”

Rugby was originally invented in England as an off-shoot of soccer and was the predecessor of American football.

Knowledge of the game isn’t required to become a team member.

“There’s no requirement you even know what the ball looks like –we can teach you that,” Little says.

For information, call 573-2307 or 690-5377.