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Rugby season ends on high note

October 22, 2009

The UW-River Falls Rugby Club’s season ended this past weekend with a win against St. Mary’s at home on the intramural fields.

For the first time in four years, the UWRF Fighting Cocks had the Minnesota Collegiate Final Four in its sight. With five matches and one tournament, the season wrapped up on a high note.

This year was different than any other year in the past because the Involvement Fair played a larger role in the future of the team. With over 65 people filling out an interest form on the game, the team acquired 15-20 new recruits.

“I believe that the rookies that came in the fall have great potential to be great players and even better leaders,” student Travis Spencer, who plays eight-man, said.

With practices starting the first week of September it was the veteran’s job to teach their new rookies the ins and outs of the game. Practicing three times a week plus game days, new recruits to the game had their work cut out for them learning the new game.

“I really had no clue what I was getting myself into at the beginning of the season, but I met a great group of guys that I can go to for anything,” Sam Gartmann, outside center, said.

The season started when River Falls traveled to Elk River, Minn., for the All-Minnesota Rugby Tournament. River Falls battled Moorhead, Viterbo, Morris and Bemidji, taking second place overall in the tournament.

With the biggest tournament of the year behind them, the team focused on trying times that had struck them. Two of the teammates had experienced hardships from home when two of their family friends found out that they had cancer. These two looked to their teammates for help, and it was decided that as a team they would raise money to help these individuals in any way they can. Raising over $150 for each person, the team sent the money as well as a signed rugby ball to those in need.

“I thought that it was pretty incredible that my teammates did not flinch when I asked if they would like to donate,” Crague Cook, second row, said. “People were pulling money out of their wallets willing to help out and I appreciated that my team had stepped up to help out.”

With a sense of unity bringing the team together, the players said they found a cohesiveness that proved promising on the field. After beating Luther College 37-0, the team was flying high.

It was not until the game against Viterbo did they realize that defeat was possible. Although the team was up two tries (the equivalent of a touchdown) to zero, they lost in the final seconds of the game three tries to two. This game caused great heartbreak on the team as they saw their chances at the Final Four diminished by a mere two points.

“In the last 10 minutes we stopped playing as a team after we thought we had the game won,” Stefan Berg, senior flyhalf, said. “We did not do the things we needed to do to hold on to the lead and win the game.”

Although the season was filled with ups and downs, the team feels that between the number of rookies acquired and the number of wins, the season was a success.

According to Peter Walbolt, captain and outside center, “This season was a success because we were able to learn from our experiences, both good and bad to become positive members individually for our team and create a cohesive group overall.”