Tue, May 28 at 9:55 AM


Meet Ross Depperschmidt, one of NOLA GOLD Rugby’s longest-tenured players, and a true globetrotter in the rugby world. From his first introduction to the sport at Alabama to training in New Zealand and touring Europe, Ross has seen and done it all. In this laid-back chat, he shares how these experiences shaped his game, the changes he’s witnessed at NOLA GOLD, and what it takes to stay at the top.

Q: Your rugby career has taken you across the world, including Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and New Zealand. How did these experiences impact your development as a player?
A: Yeah, they were massive. I didn’t really know what the sport of rugby was until I was 17 or 18 at Alabama, and the level of competition in the SEC wasn’t exactly the highest in the world. I took it upon myself to improve my rugby by training in New Zealand during grad school for a few months, and then obviously I went on that European tour as well. It was incredible to learn from these guys that had been playing since they were 3 years old.

Q: You were a football and baseball player in high school. Was college the first time you played rugby?
A: I had an older brother who went to Alabama as well and started playing rugby on the club team immediately. I didn’t plan on playing sports in college, but about two weeks into school, I felt the urge to get back into competitive sports and I tried out rugby.

Q: What was the level of competition there?
A: I was completely new to the game, so I was lacking a lot of the ball skills and knowledge, but I was a good enough athlete to get by. There are some tough schools in the SEC like South Carolina and Tennessee. It was D1-AA, so there were definitely good athletes in the mix.

Q: What did playing 7s do for you as a player?
A: You get a lot more time and space on the ball, so you’ve got a few more opportunities to express yourself on the ball. In 15s, it’s a lot quicker, so it taught me to make decisions quickly.

Q: You’ve got a couple degrees in mechanical engineering — do you want to apply them after rugby is over?
A: Yeah, maybe so…to be determined. It’s tough to do part-time engineering, but I do enjoy some paralegal work on the side. We’ll see what happens after I hang the boots up.

Q: You’re one of the GOLD’s longest-tenured players; how has the club evolved since you joined?
A: Massively. Everything’s become more professional — we used to train at Gretna and play at a high school, and now our facilities are some of the best in the league. We also pay mind to our recovery processes in a more professional way.

Q: What have the international roster spots done for the league?
A: They’ve got some much experience and skill that I’m always trying to learn from. Guys like Rodney Iona or Jordan Jackson-Hope are always happy to explain their thinking or play.

Q: Two straight wins against respectable Western Conference opponents. What’s this team’s mentality at this later stage of the season?
A: Yeah, since we came back from that second bye, it’s been about focusing on ourselves. If we execute the finer details of the game and stay physical, the results take care of themselves.

Q: What was the strongest part of our game last week?
A: Our defensive effort was insane. We had about 190 tackles. If you look only at the stats — possession, territory — you’d probably think that Utah won the game. Our scramble and line defense was amazing.

Q: Who deserves recognition for their performance?
A: Definitely a handful of guys, but I’ll go for OJ Noah. He’s had some huge plays during the last two weeks. Jordan Jackson-Hope at 12 is a beast, flying around the field.

Q: You’ve been logging some heavy minutes in recent weeks. How much emphasis do you put on recovery after these games? Do your processes and systems change, or do you try to stay as consistent as possible? What are some particular methods you use to get back to full fitness in this physical game?
A: I’m very routine-oriented. I do quite a bit after every training session and game. I focus on mobility and stack stretching, and then I implement contrast exposure (ice plunge and warm tub) to try to reduce inflammation directly after. I also stick to the weights each week, all to try to stay available each weekend.

Q: Looking ahead, we’ve got Chicago this week. What’s the chatter in the locker room about this game?
A: Obviously, the first time we met, they came down and punked us pretty good. It wasn’t our best performance. We owe them one this week, which is sort of our mantra. We need to go to their place and take it to them. They’re a big, physical team, and pretty tactically sound, too. We need to throw the first punch.

Q: What areas of their game do we need to respect? What about their play was surprising the first time we met?
A: Not necessarily — even last year, they showed that they had some really talented individuals. Now that they’re getting chemistry, they’re quality. They’re big, physical, and talented across the board.

Q: The playoffs are within striking distance. What does NOLA need to do to seal the deal for the first time ever?
A: We just need to keep doing what we’re doing and stay consistent. [Coach] Cory keeps preaching that — if we stay consistent, we’ll get to where we want to be.

Q: What’s on the playlist to get you hyped for a gameday?
A: Oh, whoever’s on aux in the locker room. Usually Rodney Iona.

Q: Is he good on aux? Do people trust him with it?
A: Yeah, I’d say he usually picks the right tunes for the boys.

Q: Who wins in a 100-yard race, Jarred Adams, or Ross Depperschmidt in Crocs?
A: Sheesh, in Crocs? I’d probably say Jarred. Based on the big man’s carries the past couple weeks, I’d say he’s got some good pace.

Q: What if I swapped Jarred Adams for Sean Paranihi?
A: I’ll back myself on that one. Wouldn’t want to go against him in a contact situation, but I’ll take the running.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login