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Rugby team looks to end season on a high note

April 26, 2007

Last fall the UW-River Falls Men’s Rugby Club came up one win short of taking its division’s crown with a 12-10 loss to Bemidji State University in the championship game. This spring season, the team is trying to regain that momentum with a different crop of players.

With a very talented and experienced team last fall season, the team was able to dominate its competition all year long en route to the championship game.

“It was unfortunate that we lost, but it is a testament to how well we played all season and that is what we want to get back this season and bring to the fall season,” President Tyler Stevens said.

With the upcoming graduation of four seniors, the team is now looking to younger players to step up and lead the team, Stevens said.

The spring season is more of a time to have fun and to prepare for the fall season, when team records are more important. This spring season has served just that purpose for the team.

It has been a learning experience for the team as younger players have gotten the chance to play often and to learn on the field rather than on the sideline. It has also been an opportunity for the team to gel and create unity in preparation for the more competitive fall season.

“This season we are hoping to get stronger as a team and learn to play strong for next season when a lot of the upperclassmen won’t be around,” Stevens said.
Last weekend the team played its biggest match of the spring season against Minnesota State University Mankato. The winner of the match would move up from Division III to Division II, resulting in a tougher schedule of opponents from schools much larger than UWRF.

Mankato came out on top 27-0, but UWRF didn’t hang its head too low.

“We played hard and were very close at least for the first half, it just didn’t happen for us,” Stevens said.

Although the team would have loved the challenge of playing tougher opponents, staying in Div. III isn’t necessarily a bad idea with a young team still learning, Captain Stefan Berg said.

“We are losing four seniors in the fall, so we will be young,” Berg said. “Hopefully with a season of playing together we will get an opportunity to play in another challenge match next spring.”

Berg is a freshman at UWRF and played rugby for three years in high school. It isn’t often that you see a freshman named team captain, but the leaders of the team saw qualities that would make him a strong leader.

“He’s been doing a great job, both during games and practices, keeping the team under control and working together,” Vice President and Treasurer Andrew Sevcik said. “I’m glad we have someone young to step up their freshman year and take on that kind of responsibility.”

The club currently stands at 2-3 on the season, with the All Saints Tournament in St. Cloud, Minn., and a final home game versus Bethel University yet to play.
“I hope we can win our division in the tournament,”  Sevcik said. “It’s going to be the last time that I can play in it so I really want to say that my team won our division.”

All Saints is an annual event put on during the spring season in St. Cloud that features numerous teams from around the area.

“It’s always one of the big highlights of the spring,” Stevens said. “We play some great games and have a good time with each other, enjoying the sport we play.”

The Rugby Club wraps up the spring season on at 1 p.m. May 5 with a home match against Bethel on the intramural fields.

“We would appreciate anyone who wants to come check out a fun sport and have a good time,” Stevens said.

For anyone interested in joining rugby, there are meetings at 7:30 p.m. every Monday in the Eau Galle Room in the University Center. Practices are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. on the intramural fields. New players of any experience level are always welcome to join anytime they want, Sevcik said.

“Hopefully we can get a good crop of new players to join again and keep up the winning tradition we’ve been having over the last year and a half,” he said.