Rugby wins regional title

Victories over St. Louis University, South Dakota State and the University of Northern Colorado gave the rugby team its first regional title last weekend and placed them in the Elite 8, the race for the national title.Despite harsh weather conditions throughout the weekend, the team posted a 27-0 shutout against St. Louis and followed up with a 29-5 victory over South Dakota University.”We had only played one game this year in wet, muddy conditions, so the weather concerned us,” said coach Wesley Boyd. “I was pleased with the way we adapted. The gamethe way players must run, pass, kick, secure possessionchanges drastically when the conditions are sloppy.”The team continued dominating the tournament in the finals, when they claimed the championship with a 40-10 decision over the University of Northern Colorado.The team’s shortcomings in the tournament seemed to be in transitional play.”We still need to be more disciplined in our transitional play,” Boyd said. “Once again, penalties, especially offsides, were our major shortcoming.”However, Boyd said the a tenacious defense took advantage of critical moments in the finals by playing decisively.”To rack up 96 points against these teams when we only gave up 15 points is pretty impressive,” said coach Johnny Smith. “Our hard work has paid off. The team really came together in the end.”Dennis Walker, Casey Dillon and Cornell Swain contributed to the victories with several trys each, but it was a total-team effort that won the championship.Also putting forth great performances were Justin Jordan, Kirby Dorman and Gabe Grant, according to Boyd.”Our backs got us to the Westerns, and our forwards got us through the Westerns,” Smith said.The team is excited as they look towards the Elite 8 tournament, in which the team will meet up with the southern region’s No. 2 team, University of Southern Florida, for its first action.”We’re three games away,” said Gabe Grant, pack captain. “We’re excited about the possibilities.”Grant said the team will do well if it continues playing the way it has been this year.”It comes down to these three games,” he said. “We just can’t have any let-ups or mental breakdowns in these games.”The team will travel to Jonesboro, Ark., for the Elite 8 and Final 4 competition April 20-21.Two wins during the tournament will send the team to Virginia Beach, Vir., for the finals May 4-5.”We’re really excited because our year of hard work and sacrifices has finally put us into the national championships,” Grant said.

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