Rugby club wins third state championship

USI Shield Staff

The rugby club celebrates after winning its third state championship. Photo courtesy of USI Rugby

The rugby club celebrates after winning its third state championship.
Photo courtesy of USI Rugby

USI’s rugby club was able to earn their third state championship this year in a match against IPFW. The club faced them on Oct. 26 and came away with a 22-20 victory despite the 14 point deficit they faced early in the second half.

Both head Coach Kurt Murrell and President Doug Rose had this win as their top highlight of the season so far. Murrell saw it as a big win for the club as they came back from a large deficit to win late in the match. Rose focused on the fact that it was their second meeting with IPFW.

“So far, the highlight, just the peak of the season, was last weekend when we beat IPFW,” Rose said. “We faced them in the championship last year, so it’s the second time seeing them in the championship which is how rivalry’s start.”

The club went through a transition period after last season that included  losing quite a few of their strong upperclassmen. With this came a lack of leadership that they had to figure out how to reestablish.

This loss of leadership led to some uncertainty as to how this season would go or more specifically how they would be able to perform during state.

“I didn’t really expect, I mean I expected us to win, but I knew it was going to be a lot harder than it had been in the past,” said Rose. “So I was really happy when we pulled out the win but a lot more work and a lot more effort went into it than last year.”

Besides the work that Rose and the others players put in on the field there is a lot of behind the scenes work that happens to make their season go smoothly. So getting to the point of three state championships in a row as a club sport is a special thing for the athletes.

Rose said, “The amount of work that goes into it is a lot of student based, so myself and the other executives on the team put in a lot of work to make sure all the events come together.”

Some of that work includes making sure fields are reserved, teams are set up and that members of the team are all going to be at the field at the same time.

“With all that it feels good to win on top of that because then you’re not doing all this work for no reason. So it helps to just get an extra satisfaction out of it,” Rose said.

Coach Murrell also mentioned that along with the success, the attention from the school administration, faculty and students is encouraging.

“The support from the school and fans is great as a club sport,” Murrell said.

The club finds that they usually have a decent interest and turnout for the team. The club sets up a table outside the University Center at the beginning of the year to gauge interest and recruit members. Coach Murrell said that the club usually does get a pretty good turn out.

Murrell said that the type of players they get is usually a mix. They will have guys come out who have never played before mixed in with guys who played in high school.

Rose said that they due to the success over the past couple of years that guys who played in high school have heard about the program and come out to play because of that.

“The mixture of those two factors lead to us not really having to recruit as much as we used to,” Rose said.

The club also has high hopes for the remainder of their season. Their goal is to be able to keep focused all the way to nationals.

“Our goal is to get as far as we did last year if not further,” Rose said.

They have the opportunity to do that as they head to Regionals this weekend, where a win would mean they advance to the playoffs. Then their final goal would be to get to Nationals in the spring.

The club will face John Brown University on Sunday in St. Louis, Missouri, for the Mid Central Regional Qualifying match.