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UWRF men’s rugby dominates early in season

October 10, 2013

Casey Doten advances the ball up the field during the Men’s Rugby contest against St. Olaf on Sept. 21.
Casey Doten advances the ball up the field during the Men’s Rugby contest against St. Olaf on Sept. 21. The team defeated St. Olaf in a shutout, 102-0 according to the UWRF Men’s Rugby team website. Doten is the captain of the Men’s Rugby team, and he has led the team to the highest ranking of any varsity or club team on campus so far this year. (Photo courtesy Max Haynes)

The UW-River Falls men’s rugby team has the highest national ranking of any team on campus, club or varsity.

The team is ranked No. 21 in the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO).

There are four divisions of college rugby: Div. I, Div. I-AA, Div. II and the NSCRO, which is the equivalent of the NCAA’s Div. III.

However, the team’s ranking does not reflect its success so far this season. According to team Captain and President Casey Doten, the rankings are based off of how the team performed last spring, and only change at the end of each season.

Through three games this season, the rugby team has outscored its opponents by a total score of 211-0, according to the team’s website.

The Falcons play in the Minnesota Rugby Football Conference and are in the River Bluffs division. Currently, the Falcons are on top of the division.

The team only has one more regular season game before the conference tournament begins. The Minnesota Rugby Union’s playoffs are in the form of a final four, where the top four teams play in a mini tournament. The last two seasons the Falcons have played in the championship game, losing last year to the eventual national champions St. John’s University.

The team’s final regular season game is against the University of St. Thomas. UWRF won when the two teams met in the spring season last year.

If it defeats St. Thomas, the team will advance to the Minnesota Rugby Union’s final four, where it is likely that it will face St. John’s in a rematch of last season’s conference championship.

“It’s realistic to say we have a fighting chance,” Doten said. “We can definitely go out and play with them.”

Whichever team wins the Minnesota Rugby Union championship becomes eligible for the national tournament. The national tournament begins with regional play in mid November, but the semi-finals and finals do not take place until April.

Doten said that teams which qualify for the semi-finals will schedule games around the country, or the world, over the winter and early spring to stay fresh for the final two games.

The national championship takes place on April 27, in Glendale, Colo.

Despite the Falcons’ success on the field, student awareness of the team is mixed on campus.

“I think they are good, but I’m not sure,” said senior Grace Vasilis.

“They are really good, and are a club sport, I’m pretty sure,” said senior Eric Plude. “They travel to many different states to play and usually do pretty well.”

Doten admitted that many students probably have not seen a rugby game in their entire life, and probably do not know the rules either.

“It’s an interesting sport. I hadn’t heard about it until college,” said sophomore Karly Pickerign. “They are decently good. But that’s about all I really know about the rugby team.”

The team has no more home games this season, so any student hoping to see the team play will either have to travel, or attend a game in the spring. Doten said that students are encouraged to both come out to support the team, as well as come out to play for the team.