By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Tim Lenzsch’s football and wrestling career ended when he graduated from Mainland Regional High School in 2013, but his athletic career is far from over. In fact, he’s beginning a new type of sports career as a rugby player with the Jersey Shore Sharks.
It’s a natural progression for Lenzsch, who comes from a very athletic family. His father, also named Tim, played running back during his Mainland days and is a member of the Sharks rugby hall of fame, sister Deirdre is a competitive weight lifter and Olympic hopeful, and brother Sean is a rugby player at St. Augustine Prep.
“My dad played, but I never got into it until my brother got into it last spring,” said Lenzsch, who now is a 21-year-old Temple student who plays on the Owls’ club rugby team. “The Sharks asked me to come out and I picked it up right away. I was a gifted tackler in high school, captain of the defense for Mainland, so I picked it up right away and it was a natural fit.”
Lenzsch said he was in for a bit of a shock when he first started playing rugby. He thought he was in pretty good shape from playing three sports in high school (he also was a part of the Mainland track and field team), but rugby, he said, is a whole different animal.
“It’s similar to football. The only difference is there is no pads. In football, I could launch myself at people and really throw my weight around, but rugby is a lot more tactical. And in rugby, there are no breaks. It’s not like football. Sure, the ball may go out of bounds sometimes, but for the most part you are running for 40 minutes each half. In football, you play for a few seconds then get a 40-second break, and you only play one side of the ball. That’s not the case in rugby. You have to do it all. You need to be a very well-rounded athlete to play rugby,” he said. “I was a four-year varsity wrestler in high school and do some MMA in college, so I thought I was going to be prepared as far as stamina goes — but I definitely was not. Rugby is a whole different caliber compared to football. You’re running full sprint with no pads on, and when you get tackled, you have to get up and get right back into the play. I’ve never been sore after a football game, but after every rugby game I’m sore.”
Lenzsch, who is in his first year of playing rugby, said he has really taken a liking to the sport. Not just the physical nature of it, but also the camaraderie that the sport is famous for.
“I’m brand new, so I’m excited to learn the game. I play up at Temple University, so I’m getting as much experience as I can. There’s a lot of room to grow. We have a great young team with the Sharks, so I think I came in at the perfect time with all the other young guys,” Lenzsch said. “There’s a great sense of camaraderie in rugby that I’ve never experienced in any other sport. I’ve played almost every sport in the book, and to go out and hit the other team hard — it’s a very physical sport — but at the same time everyone acts like a gentleman after the game.
“You get to go hang out, eat food with the guys from the other team afterward. I even keep in touch with some of the guys (from other teams) and get in touch with them when they are in the South Jersey area,” Lenzsch added. “It’s a great sense of sportsmanship.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN