Rugby Ranked First in National Polls

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Author: Sant Kumar|Sant Kumar

After the rugby team’s breakout season last year, the men will start their season as the number one team in Division III rugby. The Tigers hope to overcome the loss of some of its best players and adjust to the changes this season brings, a new coach for example, and win the DIII championship this year.

The team plans to revitalize the program through new coach Dallen Stanford, who his players call “Paki.” Stanford brings experience and leadership to a program that is ready to take the next step and go far into the postseason.

Stanford is a former captain of the U.S. Eagles rugby team for which he played backline.

“We’ve struggled a little bit with our backline, and that is our coach’s specialty, so we’re really excited about becoming an even better team this year,” team president Matthew Nixon (senior) said.

Nixon says that his team is not focusing on their triumphs of last year, reflected in their number one ranking, but rather looking forward to competing for the championship that eluded them last season.      

“It is cool that we’re ranked number one, but the ranking does not mean too much. We want to continue to nationals and win this year. That is our goal and that is what we are focused on,” he said.

Nixon is also not concerned about graduating key players after last season and is instead committed to this year’s personnel.

“We lost a good amount of seniors, but we have a lot of depth. There were players last year who could start on a lot of other teams, but they did not. This year they get a chance to start,” he said.

Though the team graduated many seniors, they also brought in a lot of new players. Jason Park (senior) is confident that they can not only help them get to the championship, but also be impact players. “We got a lot of new players so far, who are really picking up the sport fast. They are going to help us a lot,” he said.

Despite the fact that rugby plays in the winter, the preparation for this season began in fall. They have been practicing for a few months, lifting before practicing, and practicing twice a week.

 Even if it is a new season, the rugby team will face the best the conference has to offer in Cal Lutheran as well as a game against University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV).

 “Both of those teams are strong and will be hard games, but I have no doubt that we will be prepared for those,” Nixon said.

 The rugby team will open their season this Saturday, Nov. 5, when they play in their first tournament at Long Beach. Their first scrimmage will be against Riverside on Nov. 12.

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