Men’s rugby has returned to LC after a long absence
By Maddie Lee /// Staff Writer
They run, they tackle, they lift each other high into the air, and they drink a lot of beer (after they turn 21, of course). You may be wondering who these men of so many talents are. Meet men’s rugby.
Men’s rugby has returned to LC after a long absence. They practiced and played in friendlies last year, and now they finally have been accepted into the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO).
This fresh team had their first competitive shot in Las Vegas this January, where they played in the National Sevens tournament. On the first day, they were placed in a difficult pool, facing Notre Dame, Saint Joseph’s and New Mexico State, due to a lack of small colleges participating in the tournament.
As they are a new program from a small college facing a Division I school, it was not much of a surprise when LC was shut out in their first game against Notre Dame. Many members of the team had never played in a game before.
“So we just threw them in there,” captain and Club President Alex Fitch (’16) said. “And it went awesome; it was great. And I mean, obviously we lost, but the learning, even between the first and second half, was unbelievable.”
LC was shut out again by Saint Joseph’s, but came back from their first two losses to take a 25-12 victory over New Mexico State.
The second day, LC had a quarterfinal bye, sending them straight into the semifinals of their bracket. While they did not continue on into the finals, they fought hard, staying even with Pittsburgh for much of the game. LC put 12 points on the board, but lost by 12 in the end.
Now that they are back in Oregon, men’s rugby promises to be even more competitive in their own league. They are currently 2-1 on the regular season with two wins against Willamette: 45-5 and 20-15 respectively. They lost 20-2 to Puget Sound, which was ranked 12th in the NSCRO after this past fall.
“We’re a huge power team,” Fitch said. “I’d say physicality and size, we’ve got on almost every team.”
Over the past year, the team has gone through rapid development, growing from a handful of guys playing exhibition games to a team of 15 to 20 (depending on the day), making waves in league play. They are coached by Enrique Lopez, an Oregon Sports Union premiere player.
While the game is intriguing in and of itself, many players are drawn to rugby because of its unique culture.
“A large part of rugby, probably my favorite part, is that it’s not just the game and the sport, but there’s a really large community around it,” Tate Sellers (’15) said.
LC’s next game is at Oregon Institute of Technology, April 5. They play through April with three more league games and one non-league game. In the meantime, they look to continue to build their roster.
“We’re trying to get a lot more awareness, trying to get a lot more kids out,” Niko Millington (’15) said. “Some people come out and just have the best time ever.”