MILWAUKEE (WITI) — When you think of Wisconsin sports — rugby probably doesn’t come to mind. But a local band of brothers grew up loving rugby — and for these guys — it’s much more than just a sport.
“Having their seat empty at Christmas, at Thanksgiving. Skype…you can only do so much. You can’t hug the computer. God bless that they were able to come home and get back to family and friends,” Nick Albert said.
For the Albert brothers, this summer is one to celebrate.
“This summer is the first time in almost 10 years that were all going to be around together – so we’re really looking forward to the summer,” Zach Albert said.
Three of the four brothers — Zach, Nick and Mike, play for the Milwaukee Barbarians — the premiere rugby organization in Wisconsin.
The fourth brother, Joe, hurt his wrist last year — but will be there cheering from the sidelines.
“Those memories are going to be with us for a long time. I don’t know how many other people can say that,” Joe Albert said.
The Alberts look forward to making those memories — since they’ve spent so much time apart.
Both Joe and Zach spent time in the military.
“The Army and rugby go hand-in-hand with the brotherhood and camaraderie,” Zach Albert said.
After his 14-month deployment, rugby helped Zach transition from soldier to civilian.
“It ended up being the best thing for me. Still great buddies with all of them. It was good for me coming home to have that stress relief again — because I didn’t get to play for almost a year-and-a-half,” Zach Albert said.
Joe is the oldest — followed by Nick, then Zach. Mike, the youngest of the four is thankful Zach had the sport to turn to when he got home.
“Being away is hard. When you come back, you have that band of brotherhood. Having so many friends to keep his mind off being overseas. I think rugby definitely helped,” Mike Albert said.
These brothers have been playing rugby for their entire lives.
Their father created the rugby program in their native Muskego — so it’s no surprise these brothers consider the sport to be therapeutic.
“It helps so many people to take that competitive edge and use it on the field. Not just my brother. I have other friends, cousins that have been able to do that just to ease that transition,” Nick Albert said.
The brothers pay it forward with the sport. Each has coached in Muskego in some capacity.
The brothers hope their players can bond the way they have on the field — whether they’re related by blood or not.
“We’re brothers. You hate them and you love them. (Rugby) is another family. It’s another brotherhood,” Zach Albert said.
The Albert brothers have a younger sister named Elissa.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Milwaukee Barbarians.